What is a Tax Roll?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as an assessment roll, the tax roll is a list of all property that is subject to taxes. Tax rolls are a common instrument of use for cities, townships, counties and parishes. The roll will identify every taxable property that is physically located within the jurisdiction. This makes it possible to maintain accurate records for the purpose of assessing property taxes for the upcoming fiscal year.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

The detail that is included in a tax roll can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another. However, just about every one will contain a few common pieces of information. The tax roll will list the owner of record for each property on the list, along with the physical address of the property. There will also be a legal description of the property; often this detail is identical to that listed on the deed that is registered for the property in question. There will also be an assessment of the current taxable value of the property.

Most examples of a tax roll will also include an assessment or roll number for each property listed on the document. The roll number is more or less for the internal use of the jurisdiction, and can be utilized as a quick means of pulling up all relevant data on a given piece of property. Roll numbers tend to remain the same from one tax period to the next, and may be configured with numbers only, or be an alphanumeric combination if this approach works best for the jurisdiction.

In many cases, the updating of the tax roll for an upcoming tax period must occur by a certain time of year, usually a month or two before the actual beginning of the new fiscal year. For example, if the fiscal year happens to coincide with the calendar year, the jurisdiction may be required to complete the latest version of the tax roll, including the revision of any value assessments, by October 1. This provides a window to notify property owners of any changes in value assessments before the new fiscal year begins and property taxes become due.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Dannee - I don’t know for a fact, but I’m pretty sure you can get county tax roll information by going to the local courthouse and looking it up. I believe this is public information, as would be information related to the sale of the property.

After all, you can look up different properties online and you can get a snapshot of what the real estate taxes would be for that property.

Real estate investors often go to the courthouse to look up properties they are thinking of investing in; they can find out tax information, lien information, the prior owners and so forth. So I believe the tax roll information would be public as well and easily available.


I get a tax appraisal statement every year about the time I start filing taxes, although the statement itself is just an estimate and not meant to be used for taxes. I have separate documentation from the mortgage company that shows actual property taxes.

One thing I can tell you is that real estate taxes have been increasing quite steadily in our area-this is the price I pay for living in a “good part” of town. The schools nearby are good and they are planning to build a collegiate academy, which will be kind of a prep school at the high school level.

All this is great, but what it means for us is that property taxes go up; sometimes we will vote on a bond issue to impose a penny tax here or there to fund a new project, and that helps, but either way we are paying for the expansion.


@Dannee, this article at least suggests that tax rolls are more often used by cities, business, and other large organizations. An individual's personal tax information is probably stored another way, and most likely not as easy to acquire.


How do you go about getting tax roll information on someone?

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