Olga Pletneva, Russia-InfoCentre, September 21, 2006
It is not improbable that approximately 21 million childless Russian adults will be punished with a new tax. The State Duma introduced this idea. The vice-chairman of the health protection committee Nikolai Gerasimenko suggested reverting to practice of the Soviet time and imposing the sterility tax to improve the demographic situation in the country.
According to the vice-chairman, the appropriate bill is being worked at. He said, it was the time to think of the sterility tax. People, who don’t want to carry out their civil duty, will have to pay. The head of the Health Department Mikhail Zurabov seemed to like this idea. Commenting on the deputy’s statement the minister noted that the question of imposing the sterility tax is not quite clear. The government is looking for funding sources of social expenditures. Zurabov is firmly convinced that in spite of all the talks that having or not having a baby is each citizen’s own business statistics says that demography depends greatly on the policy of the state.
The USSR came to this conclusion long time ago. The sixth part of the land was the only place on the Earth where a sterility tax existed. The tax for bachelors, single or having a small family people was imposed in November 1941 by Stalin’s instructions and aimed at improving the demographical situation of the country. All the men (from 20 to 50) and women (from 20 to 45) had to give 6% of their salary to the state if they didn’t have children. People, who earned less than 91 rubles a month, could take an advantage of the tax rate reduction.
Those people, who couldn’t have children because of the health state were exempted from the tax. This point used to be a nice loophole for fierce opponents of childbearing. Possessing a little sum of money confirmed bachelors could easily provide themselves with a necessary certificate and therefore avoid extra expences, even if they had children born on the other side of the blanket in different cities and towns of the country, thus the tax and alimony meant nothing for them. It is an interesting fact that Mikhail Zurabov mentioned false medical certificates to be the underbelly of the sterility tax, because nowadays anyone can buy any certificate without going outside, using the Internet only.
Anyway, the sterility tax worked and Zurabov gave an example. Thankful to the steps the USSR took in 70s the birth rate gradually increased and in 1987 the coefficient made up 2.19, but during the next ten years it reduced to 1.17. That was the population respond to the difficulties of the transition period and as a result — the birth rate cut.
The head of the Demography and Human Ecology Center Anatoly Vishnevsky mentioned at the press-coference that for over 40 years Russia had been in the list of countries with the lowest birth rate in the world.
However, there are some ways to stimulate fertility. After giving a birth to the second child a woman may lose the level of proficiency. This situation may seem humiliating, and the state must support a woman, who has decided to have another baby, and put at her disposal a maternal capital base.
We should say that the authorities are still not sure what way they can finance the maternal capital appropriation program, and it is 250 thousand rubles for every second child. Beginning with January Russian pension capital fund will keep tabs on “the second-time mothers”, but they will get money only three years later. But for all that the pension fund is unable to cover the expenses itself, that’s why it would be irresponsible to burden it with new duties without the indemnity from the federal budget.
The bill is being worked out at the moment, and nobody can say how much a citizen unwilling to have children will pay. But now there are some ideas. For instance, imposing a 2% tax income for all citizens over 22-25 years of age whose monthly income exceeds 100 thousand rubles. And it doesn’t matter if they are married or not. But not all the deputies agree with this idea. In Russia every 10 thousand men fall at 12.5 thousand women, and it seems merely strange to push single ladies to child-bearing. By the way, Soviet women, if they were not married were exempted from the tax.
So, there are pros and contras, but what we should think about is the fact that the number of the Russians is decreasing, and perhaps this tax may become a good reason for those, who hesitate to have a child now or some years later.
(Posted on September 28, 2006)