Last updated July 23, 2020 Civil War Tax Rates

When determining the authenticity of a Civil War-era document, one of the factors that can be used is whether the tax rate was correct. The tax structure was complicated and changed for many transactions throughout the period as legislation was passed. The tax rate table can also be used to determine underpaid or overpaid taxes, as well as any secondary or tertiary transactions on the same document or companion documents.

General tabular data courtesy of Michael Mahler. Used with permission.

The best way to use this table is to start typing words associate with the type of the transaction, e.g., "deed", "bond", etc., into the search box and the table will shrink as you type, so you don't have to scroll through the entire table to find the taxable transaction you are looking for.

Transaction Type Description October 1, 1862 March 3, 1863 August 1, 1864 1865–1870

DOCUMENTARY

Agreement Agreement or contract, not specified elsewhere; appraisement. For each sheet of paper: $0.05 Provided that for more than one agreement, contract, or appraisement on the same sheet of paper, each taxed at: $0.05
Agreement Renewal or continuance of agreement or contract. Taxed at same rate as original instrument.
Bank Check Bank check, draft, or order, payable at sight. Amount over $20: $0.02 Drawn on any bank, banker, or trust company, for any amount: $0.02
Bank Check Drawn on any other person or company, amount over $10: $0.02
Bill of Lading Bill of lading for goods exported to any foreign port except those in British North America. $0.10
Bill of Lading Domestic or inland bill of lading. August 1, 1866
Exempt.
Bill of Sale of Ship

Value up to $500: $0.25

Over $500 to $1,000: $0.50

Each additional $1,000 or fraction: $0.50

For each $500 or fraction: $0.50
Bond, Surety For payment of any sum of money or for performance of the duties of any office: $0.50 For payment of money, for each $1,000 or fraction: $0.50
Bond Bond, other than those required in legal proceedings or specified elsewhere in this schedule $0.25
Certificate Certificate of damage, or other document issued by port warden or marine surveyor $0.25
Certificate Certificate of deposit

Amount up to $100: $0.02

Over $100: $0.05

Certificate Certificate or profits, or any certificate or memorandum concerning property or accumulations of any incorporated company

Amount $10 to $50: $0.10

Over $50: $0.25

Amount $10 to $50: $0.10

Over $50 to $1,000: $0.25

For each additional $1,000 or fraction: $0.25

Certificate Certificate of stock in any incorporated company $0.25
Certificate Certificate of measurement or weight Exempt

For animals, coal, or wood: Exempt

All others: Taxed as measurer's or weigher's returns

For animals, coal, wood, or hay: Exempt.

All others: $0.05

Certificate Certificate of the record of a deed or other instrument, or of the proof thereof Exempt
Certificate Affidavit If used in legal proceedings: Exempt March 1, 1867
All affidavits: Exempt.
Certificate Certificate not specified elsewhere $0.10 $0.05
Charter Party Contract for the charter of any ship

Registered tonnage up to 300 tons: $3.00

Over 300 to 600 tons: $5.00

Over 600 tons: $10.00

Registered tonnage up to 150 tons: $1.00

Over 150 to 300 tons: $3.00

Over 300 to 600 tons: $5.00

Over 600 tons: $10.00

Charter Party Renewal or continuance of any charter party Taxed at same rate as original instrument
Contract Broker's contract, note, or memo of sale of any kind, except as specified below. $0.10
Contract Contract for purchase or sale of gold or silver coin or bullion, or contract for loan secured by gold or silver coin; period exceeding 3 days. 0.5% of principal, plus 6% per annum Tax rescinded.
Contract Sales or contracts for sale of stocks, bonds, bullion, notes, or other securities.

August 1, 1866
For each $100 or fraction:

If made by broker: $0.01

If made by any other person: $0.05

Conveyance Deed or other conveyance of land, tenements or other real property.

Value over $100 to $500: $0.50

Over $500 to $1,000: $1.00

Over $1,000 to $2,500: $2.00

Over $2,500 to $5,000: $5.00

Over $5,000 to $10,000: $10.00

Over $10,000 to $20,000: $20.00

For each additional $10,000 or fraction: $20.00

Tax on any conveyance shall not exceed $1,000.

For each $500 or fraction: $0.50

$1,000 tax limit rescinded.

Entry of Goods Entry of goods at any custom-house, for consumption or warehousing.

Value to $100: $0.25

Over $100 to $500: $0.50

Over $500: $1.00

Entry for withdrawal from bonded warehouse, $0.50

Express Express company receipt.

Charge up to $0.25: $0.01

Over $0.25 to $1.00: $0.02

Over $1.00: $0.05

May 1, 1863
Tax rescinded.
Foreign Exchange Bill of exchange drawn in but payable out of the U.S.

If drawn in sets of three or more, for each bill:

Amount up to the equivalent of $150 U.S.: $0.03

Over $150 to $250: $0.05

Over $250 to $500: $0.10

Over $500 to $1,000: $0.15

Over $1,000 to $1,500: $0.20

Over $1,500 to $2,250: $0.30

Over $2,250 to $3,500: $0.50

Over $3,500 to $5,000: $0.70

Over $5,000 to $7,000: $1.00

Each additional $2,500 or fraction: $0.30

If drawn otherwise than in sets of three or more: Taxed at the same rate as bills of inland exchange.

If drawn in sets of three or more, for each bill, for each $100 U.S. or fraction: $0.02

If drawn otherwise than in sets of three or more: Taxed at the same rate as bills of inland exchange.

Foreign Exchange Bill of exchange drawn in a foreign country but payable in U.S. Taxed before payment at the same rate as bills of inland exchange.
Gauger's Return

Quantity up to 500 gallons gross: $0.10

Over 500 gallons: $0.25

August 1, 1866
Tax rescinded.
Inland Exchange Bill of exchange payable in U.S., draft, or order, payable other than at sight, or any promissory note.

Amount over $20 up to $100: $0.05

Amount over $100 to $200: $0.10

Amount over $200 to $350: $0.15

Amount over $350 to $500: $0.20

Amount over $500 to $750: $0.30

Amount over $750 to $1,000: $0.40

Amount over $1,000 to $1,500: $0.60

Amount over $1,500 to $2,500: $1.00

Amount over $2,500 to $5,000: $1.50

Each additional $1,500 or fraction: $1.00

Amount over $20, for each $200 or fraction:

Payable within 33 days (3 days grace): $0.01

Payable in 33 to 63 days: $0.02

Payable in 63 to 93 days: $0.03

Payable in 93 days to four months, three days: $0.04

Payable in four months, three days to six months, three days: $0.06

Payable in over six months, three days: $0.10

For each $100 or fraction: $0.05

October 1, 1870
Tax rescinded for amounts less than $100.
Inland Exchange Note or bond secured by mortgage. Only one stamp tax required, to be placed on either instrument, provided it is the higher of the two required on the separate instruments.
Inland Exchange Deposit note to mutual insurance company. Exempt.
Insurance Insurance on property to any description.

Each policy: $0.25

Premium up to $10: $0.10

Over $10: $0.25

Premium up to $10: $0.10

Over $10 to $50: $0.25

Over $50: $0.50

Insurance Assignment or transfer of policy of insurance. Taxed at same rate as original instrument.
Lease Lease of any land or tenement.

Period up to three years: $0.50

Over three years: $1.00

Yearly rent up to $300: $0.50

Each additional $200 or fraction: $0.50

Lease Assignment or transfer of lease. Taxed at same rate as original instrument. April 1, 1865
Tax equal to that on original instrument, plus that on a conveyance of property of equal value.
Life Insurance

Policy up to $1,000: $0.25

Over $1,000 to $5,000: $0.50

Over $5,000: $1.00

Life Insurance Insurance against fatal or non-fatal injury. Against injury while traveling: Exempt. April 1, 1865
Against any accidental injury: Exempt.
Lottery Ticket May 1, 1863
For each $1 or fraction of purchase price: $0.50
Tax rescinded.
Manifest Manifest for custom-house entry or clearance of cargo of any ship, for a foreign port except those in British North America.

Registered tonnage up to 300 tons: $1.00

Over 300 to 600 tons: $3.00

Over 600 tons: $10.00

Measurer's Return

Quantity up to 1000 bushels: $0.10

Over 1000 bushels: $0.25

August 1, 1866
Tax rescinded.
Mortgage Mortgage of real or personal property, or personal bond for the payment of money.

Amount over $100 to $500: $0.50

Over $500 to $1,000: $1.00

Over $1,000 to $2,500: $2.00

Over $2,500 to $5,000: $5.00

Over $5,000 to $10,000: $10.00

Over $10,000 to $20,000: $15.00

Each additional $10,000 or fraction: $10.00

For each $200 or fraction: $0.10

Tax on any mortgage shall not exceed $1,000.

Over $100for each $500 or fraction: $0.50

$1,000 tax limit rescinded.

Mortgage Assignment or transfer of mortgage. Taxed at same rate as original instrument. August 1, 1866
Taxed at same rate as a mortgage for the amount remaining unpaid.

October 1, 1870
When original is stamped, assignment exempt from tax.

Original Process/Legal Documents Writ or other original process whereby any suit is commenced in a court of record. $0.50 March 1, 1867
All taxes on legal documents rescinded.
Original Process/Legal Documents Writ, summons, or other process issued by a justica of the peace, or issued in suits commenced by the United States or any state. Exempt. Exemption extended to police or municipal courts.
Original Process/Legal Documents Writ issued by a court not of record, where amount claimed exceeds $100. $0.50
Original Process/Legal Documents Upon confession of judgement for more than $100, the tax for writ of commencement not having been paid. $0.50
Original Process/Legal Documents Writ or other process of appeal from a court of inferior jurisdiction to a court of record. $0.50
Original Process/Legal Documents Warrant of distress.

Amount of rent claimed up to $100: $0.25

Over $100: $0.50

Passage Ticket Passage ticket for a voyage from the U.S. to any foreign port except those in British North America.

Price up to $30: $0.50

Over $30: $1.00

Price up to $35: $0.50

Over $35 to $50: $1.00

Each additional $50 or fraction: $1.00

Power of Attorney Power of attorney to sell, convey, rent or lease real estate. $1.00
Power of Attorney Power of attorney to receive or collect rent. $0.25
Power of Attorney Power of attorney for sale or transfer of stock, bonds, or scrip, or for the collection of interest or dividends thereon. $0.25

Exception: For sale or transfer of scrip or certificate of profit for amounts up to $50: $0.10

Exception rescinded.
Power of Attorney Power of attorney or proxy for voting at any election of officers of any incorporated company or society except religious, charitable, or literary societies, or public cemetaries. $0.10
Power of Attorney Power of attorney not specified elsewhere. $1.00 $0.50
Power of Attorney Power of attorney or other paper relating to application for bounty, arrearage of pay, or pension, etc., or receipt thereof; warrant of attorney accompanying properly stamped bond or note. Exempt.
Probate of Will Probate of will, or letters of administration.

Value of estate up to $2,500: $0.50

Over $2,500 to $5,000: $1.00

Over $5,000 to $20,000: $2.00

Over $20,000 to $50,000: $5.00

Over $50,000 to $100,000: $10.00

Each additional $100,000 or fraction: $10.00

Value of estate up to $2,000: $10.00

Each additional $1,000 or fraction: $0.50

March 1, 1867
Value of estate up to $1,000: Exempt.
Protest Protest on check or ntoe, or marine protest. $0.25
Receipt Receipt for the payment of any sum of money, or for the payment of any debt exceeding $20, except for satisfaction of mortgage or court decree; or receipt for delivery of property. $0.02 April 1, 1865
Receipts of express companies: Exempt.

October 1, 1870
Tax on receipts rescinded.

Telegraph Telegraph despatch.

Charge for first ten words is $0.20 or less: $0.01

Charge for first ten words is over $0.20: $0.03

Warehouse Receipt Warehouse receipt for any property held in storage in any warehouse or yard. $0.25

Value of goods up to $500: $0.10

Over $500 to $1,000: $0.20

Each additional $1,000: $0.10

Value not ascertained: $0.25

August 1, 1866
Tax rescinded.
Weigher's Return

Weight up to 500 pounds: $0.10

Over 500 pounds: $0.25

August 1, 1866
Tax rescinded.
All official documents issued or used by officers of the United States Government. December 25, 1862
Exempt.
Any power of attorney, conveyance, or document of any kind made in a foreign country to be used in the United States. Same tax as if made in the United States.

PROPRIETARY

Medicines Medicines or preparations, where the maker has, or claims to have, a private formula for preparation, or an exclusive right to preparation, or which are otherwise held out to the public as proprietary medicines.

For each box, bottle, or other enclosure, retail value up to $0.25: $0.01

Over $0.25 to $0.50: $0.02

Over $0.50 to $0.75: $0.03

Over $0.75 to $1.00: $0.04

Each additional $0.50 or fraction: $0.02

Perfumery and Cosmetics

For each box, bottle, or other enclosure, retail value up to $0.25: $0.01

Over $0.25 to $0.50: $0.02

Over $0.50 to $0.75: $0.03

Over $0.75 to $1.00: $0.04

Each additional $0.50 or fraction: $0.02

Playing Cards

For each pack, price up to $0.18: $0.01

Over $0.18 to $0.25: $0.02

Over $0.25 to $0.30: $0.03

Over $0.30 to $0.36: $0.04

Over $0.36: $0.05

For each pack, retail price up to $0.18: $0.02

Over $0.18 to $0.25: $0.04

Over $0.25 to $0.50: $0.10

Over $0.50 to $1.00: $0.15

Each additional $0.50 or fraction: $0.05

April 1, 1865
The word "retail" stricken from rate table.

August 1, 1866
For each pack not exceeding 52 cards: $0.05

Matches Friction matches. September 1, 1864
For each 100 or fraction: $0.01
Matches Cigar lights. September 1, 1864
For each 100 or fraction: $0.02
August 1, 1866
For each 25 or fraction: $0.01
Matches Wax tapers. September 1, 1864
For each 100 or fraction: $0.02
Photographs

Retail price up to $0.25: $0.02

Over $0.25 to $0.50: $0.03

Over $0.50 to $1.00: $0.05

Each additional $1.00 or fraction: $0.05

August 1, 1866
Tax on photographs rescinded.
Photographs Photographs, being copies of engravings or works of art, or used for the illustrations of books and photographs so small in size that stamps cannot be affixed. Exempt from stamp duty and subject to a 5% ad valorem duty. April 1, 1865
Photographs of engravings or works of art exempt from stamp duty only when wholesale price does not exceed ten cents each.
Preserved Meats, Fish, Etc. Meats, fish, shell-fish, fruits, vegetables, sauces, syrups, prepared mustard, jams or jellies. October 1, 1866
For each can, bottle, or other package, for each two pounds weight or fraction thereof: $0.01

March 1, 1867
Meats, shell-fish, fruits and vegetables exempt.

July 14, 1870
Fish additionally exempted.

March 5, 1872
All remaining stamp taxes on preserved goods rescinded.

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