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Friday, April 27, 2012

Tax on childlessness

The tax on childlessness (Russian: налог на бездетность, nalog na bezdetnost) was imposed in the Soviet Union starting in 1941. Joseph Stalin's regime created the tax in order to encourage adult Russians to reproduce, thus increasing the number of Russians and the population of the Soviet Union. The 6% income tax affected men from the age of 25 to 50, and married women from 20 to 45 years of age.
The tax remained in place until the collapse of the Soviet Union, though by the end of the Soviet Union, the amount of money which could be taxed was steadily reduced. Minister of Health Mikhail Zurabov and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Health Protection Nikolai Gerasimenko proposed reinstating the tax in Russia in 2006, but so far it is has not been reinstated. A reinstatation of the tax has also been proposed in Ukraine.

Soviet Era Tax

As originally passed and enforced from 1941 - 1990, the tax affected most childless men from 25 to 50 years of age, and most childless married women from 20 to 45 years of age. The tax was 6% of the childless person's wages, but it provided certain exceptions: those with children that died during World War II did not have to pay the tax, nor did war heroes that received certain awards. Also, many students were able to obtain an exemption from the tax, as did people who earned less than 70 rubles a month. Furthermore, those who were medically ineligible to give birth were also exempt to this tax, and many single men fraudulently escaped the tax by claiming infertility and provided fake medical documentation.
After 1990, the income exemption was increased to 150 rubles, meaning that the first 150 rubles of income for childless adults went untaxed. In 1991, the tax was changed to no longer apply to women, and in 1992, it was rendered irrelevant and inactive due to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Effects and Proposals

During the Soviet Union, Russia had a higher fertility rate than it did in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, prompting some Russian leaders to propose bringing back the tax on childlessness. According to the Health Ministry, the birth rate coefficient dropped from 2.19 percent to 1.17 percent in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. According the Russian Director of the Center for Demography Anatoly Vishnevsky, this birth rate is among the lowest in the world, and Russian leaders have described the demographic issues in Russia as being symptomatic of a "crisis."
While the tax on childlessness has not been enacted, other proposals have been. For example, Vladimir Putin enacted a proposal to provide cash incentives for women who are willing to have a second child.

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