Economic historians have recently emphasized the importance of integrating economic and historical approaches in studying institutions. The literature on the Ottoman system of taxation, however, has continued to adopt a primarily historical approach, using ad hoc categories of classification and explaining the system through its continuities with the historical precedent. This paper integrates economic and historical approaches to examine the structure, efficiency, and regional diversity of the tax system. The structure of the system made it possible for the Ottomans to economize on the transaction cost of measuring the tax base. Regional variations resulted from both efficient adaptations and institutional rigidities.