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Polosin V. Two Late Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Fiscal Documents from the Manuscript Collection of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 3, No 4, December 1997. P. 30-34.

In the Ottoman empire, as earlier under the caliphate, non-Muslim subjects were obligated to pay a poll-tax — jizya, excluding children, women, invalids, the blind, and the non-working poor. Since the tax was at various times collected in various ways, it is sometimes difficult to term it a poll-tax. In villages, until a new register of tax-payers was drawn up, peasants had to pay the tax for those who had died or for neighbors who had fled. For a long time, the household and its occupants was considered the basic unit of taxation. After a tax reform in 1691, the tax became strictly individual. Upon payment of the tax, each tax-payer received a receipt called waraq or kagid, which simply means “paper”. Payments were recorded in special registers — daftars. These were drawn up duplicate: one copy was sent to the capital, the second remained in the provincial archive. The daftars were collected in a special department in Istanbul called the qalam-i jizya. This department prepared the payment receipts every year and, when the time came, handed them over to tax-collectors in sealed bags. Every year the Ottoman Sultan determined tax rates on the basis of a fatwâ handed down by the shaykh al-islâm. There were three tax rates: high, middle, and low. A large number of daftars is preserved in archives: 418 volumes of financial registers for the poll-tax for the period from 1551 to 1840, and 36 volumes of the Christian affairs register for the period from 1641 to 1838...


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financial documents
Manuscripta Orientalia, selected papers
the Ottoman empire

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