There are four recognized subspecies of Paradise Tanager (Storer 1970):
chilensis (Vigors 1832); type locality not specified, Bolivia substituted by Hellmayr (1910)
Occurs in western Amazonia, from southeastern Colombia south to Bolivia, and east, south of the Amazon, to central Brazil.
paradisea (Swainson 1837); type locality Brésil (but type presumed to have originated from Cayenne = French Guiana; Hellmayr 1936)
Occurs in Suriname, French Guiana, and northeastern Brazil; intergrades with coelicolor in Guyana and eastern Venezuela (Storer 1970)
Rump light yellow.
chlorocorys Zimmer 1929; type locality Vista Alegre, Huánuco, Peru
Occurs in the upper Huallaga valley, north central Peru
coelicolor (Sclater 1851); type locality Anolaima, Colombia; Villavicencio, Meta, Colombia substituted by Dugand (1951)
Occurs from eastern Colombia east to northwestern Brazil and to Venezuela.
Rump cadmium yellow.
The Paradise Tanager is classified in the genus Tangara, the largest genus of Neotropical birds. Tangara is divided into 13 species groups based on vocalizations, diet, geographic distributions, behavior, and appearance (Isler and Isler 1987). Traditionally, plumage has been key indicator of the relationship of the Paradise Tanager to other species of Tangara. Based on plumage similarities, Isler and Isler (1987) grouped the Paradise Tanager in species group 3, with T. seledon (Green-headed Tanager) and T. fastuosa (Seven-colored Tanager) (Isler and Isler 1987). However, recent genetic studies found that this group is in fact polyphyletic (Burns and Naoki 2004, Sedano and Burns 2010). Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data show that T. chilensis (Paradise Tanager) is more closely related to T. callophrys (Opal-crowned Tanager) and T. velia (Opal-rumped Tanager) (Isler and Isler’s group 13). This clade is a sister clade to group 1 which includes T. inornata (Plain-colored Tanager) and T. mexicana (Turquoise Tanager) (Burns and Naoki 2004, Sedano and Burns 2010). The other two members of group 3 (T. seledon and T. fastuosa) were found to be more closely related to members of group 4 (T. desmaresti Brassy-breasted Tanager and T. cyanocephala Red-necked Tanager) (Burns and Naoki 2004, Sedano and Burns 2004). These relationships are strongly supported by both posterior probability and bootstrap values (Burns and Naoki 2004, Sedano and Burns 2010).