Real property which is held in allodial title is a freehold held in absolute ownership, without obligations to any other person, organization, or government. It is distinguished from fee simple, which is freehold ownership limited by certain government powers, including the powers of taxation. Allodial title is usually used as an abstract concept to contrast land ownership from feudalism.
You cannot obtain an allodial title for your property under federal U.S. law. Some state constitutions refer to allodial title, but it does not exist in practise. Until 2005, Nevada used to have a law which allowed you to make your land allodial for property tax purposes under state law. No other state has an allodial law. This is because the right to own property in U.S. law is a limited right and not an absolute right.
U.S. land grants after the American Revolution were handed out by the federal or state governments. Some previous land ownership under foreign crown grants in purchased or annexed territories was grandfathered into the American property system.
In all real property transactions, the U.S. federal government retains the rights of eminent domain, police power, taxation, and escheat. Although some of the founding fathers thought the U.S. should only have allodial title, this did not become part of U.S. law. The Fifth Amendment does require just compensation for land taken by the government under eminent domain.
Some state constitutions refer to allodial law, but it does not exist in practise. The purpose of the reference is to distinguish local property ownership from feudal land distribution. For example, the Constitution of the State of Arkansas includes in its Declaration of Rights:
“28. Tenure of lands. “All lands in this State are declared to be allodial; and feudal tenures of every description, with all their incidents, are prohibited.”
This mention of “allodial” is clearly intended only as a contrast to feudal, because Section 23 of the Declaration of Rights in the same document says that the state retains the power of taxation and eminent domain, although it may delegate those rights to municipalities. Section 22 follows the Fifth Amendment in requiring just compensation for appropriated property.
Myths about allodial title
After the American Revolution, the Treaty of Paris stated that Americans no longer owed allegiance or duty to the British Crown. However, it did not establish allodial title in the U.S. The British Crown no longer had that power over the U.S. Besides, the treaty did not deal with domestic law on either side.
Real property in the U.S. does not cease to be allodial because of abandonment. U.S. properties have never been allodial.
Although the sovereign citizen movement tries to argue differently, land cannot be made allodial through determined occupation, land patents, or failure of a higher authority to establish a written claim. The common emailed claim that “It’s been done” is never attached to a specific, traceable name.
Homesteading does not create an allodial title. Homesteaded properties are still subject to property tax.
Nevada had a state allodial law between 1997 and 2005. Its only purpose was to protect property owners from exorbitant property taxes. It did not eliminate state rights to eminent domain, police power, or escheat. The property taxes for these Nevada properties did not go away. Instead, they are being paid by the Nevada state treasury for the time being.
Texas does not have allodial title provisions for people who own city-annexed land. Texas has never even had a case about allodial law.