BALTIMORE CITY ARCHIVES
(Collector of Taxes)
Collection of taxes in Baltimore was first formalized in 1782 when the Special Commissioners were authorized to appoint a collector. After incorporation in 1797 the municipal government made no provision for a permanent tax collector, but appointed individuals to receive city and state levies as needed. By the early years of the nineteenth century it was the practice to appoint the same person as collector on a yearly basis. Finally, in 1812, the collector became a permanent city position.
The early collectors worked on a commission basis, receiving six to eight percent of all taxes collected in return for assuming personal responsibility for what was owed. Arrearages were a problem, and the city council often was forced to extend the collection period and even on occasion to relieve the collector from responsibility for delinquent taxes. In an attempt to expedite collections, the municipality declared in 1840 that all taxes were due strictly within one year of assessment. The next year the collector was allowed to seize and sell property of delinquent taxpayers.
The duties of the collector underwent no serious change until 1898 when the office was placed under the Department of Finance by a new city charter. In 1949 the collector's office was abolished and the function transferred to the treasurer's department. Collection of taxes was transferred again by the 1964 charter to a Bureau of Collections in the Department of Finance. This arrangement is presently still in effect.
Other collector records may be found in RG.4 and RG.5. For additional information see: Jacob H. Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989) and the 1898, 1949, and 1964 city charters.