Missouri Bicentennial Minutes: Taxation in Missouri at Statehood
Missourians at the time of statehood were subject to both real and personal property taxes. The territorial legislature had established the basic system in 1814, and succeeding sessions modified it. State tax was assessed on land with complete or confirmed title; unconfirmed land; town lots, dwelling houses and other improvements, slaves over age 10, and carriages kept for pleasure.
The law also directed that the county Sheriff issue licenses for stores, and provided licensure for other types of businesses such as peddlers and ferries. The law authorized county taxes for horses, mares, mules, and asses above 3 years old; cattle above 3 years old; slaves aged 16 to 45; billiard tables; single man above age 21; water grist mills and sawmills; horse mills; tanyards; and distilleries.
The General Assembly added household furniture above overall value of $500 and watches, chains, and appendages to the personal property tax by 1821. Federal laws modified some portions of land taxation. Land sold by the U. S. after January 1, 1821 was exempt from tax for five years, and bounty lands awarded for military service and held by patentees or their heirs for three years. The intent of this law was to relieve land owners purchasing on credit. Because cash sales replaced credit sales in 1820, and the exemption remained until repealed in 1847, Missouri and other states suffered from decreased revenue during the early statehood period.
The penalty for failure to report property or to pay tax on time was double taxation. The Sheriff had authority to sell land to pay taxes, but the land was subject to redemption within a specified time.