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Tax on childlessness

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The tax on childlessness (Russian: налог на бездетность, romanizednalog na bezdetnost) was a natalist policy imposed in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, starting in the 1940s. Joseph Stalin's regime created the tax in order to encourage adult people to reproduce, thus increasing the number of people 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.[1]

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 has not been reinstated.[2]

Soviet Union[edit]

As originally passed and enforced from 1941 to 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 incapable of giving birth were also exempt to this tax, and many single men fraudulently escaped the tax by claiming infertility and provided fake medical documentation.[1]

Since 1946, the tax has been abolished for monks obliged to observe a vow of celibacy in accordance with the decision of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 2584 of December 3, 1946:

"Monks and nuns of Orthodox monasteries and monasteries of other faiths, obligated to a vow of celibacy, are not subject to taxation on bachelors, single and small-family citizens of the USSR".[3]

After 1990, the income exemption was increased to 150 rubles, meaning that the first 150 rubles of income for childless adults went untaxed.[4] 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.


In the 16th century, "bykowe" referred to a fee paid by the owner of a bull for mating cows. Later, during the 16th and 17th centuries, it also denoted a penalty for fathering an illegitimate child. At the beginning of the 20th century, dictionaries also recorded "bykowe" as meaning "a gift to a shepherd for raising a cow" and "a fee paid to musicians at a wedding by someone who wants to dance with the bride".

In 1946, communist Poland introduced a similar increase of the basic income tax rate, in effect a tax on childlessness, popularly called bykowe in Polish ("bull's tax", the "bull" being a metonymy for an unmarried man). First, childless and unmarried people over 21 years of age were affected (from January 1, 1946 until November 29, 1956), then only over 25 years of age (November 30, 1956 until January 1, 1973).[5]


Taxes on childlessness were part of the natalist policy introduced by Nicolae Ceaușescu in Communist Romania in the period 1967–1989. Along with the outlawing of abortion and contraception (1967) and mandatory gynecological revisions, these taxes were introduced in various forms in 1977 and 1986. Unmarried citizens had to pay penalty for childlessness, the tax income rate being increased by 8-10% for them.[6][7]

Effects and proposals[edit]

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.[2] According to the Health Ministry, the total fertility rate dropped from 2.19 children/woman to 1.17 children/woman in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. According to the Russian Director of the Center for Demography Anatoliy Vishnevskiy, 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 re-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.[8]

In 2018, a childless tax was proposed in China to counter their own birth rate issues.[9][10]

In Germany, Minister for Health Jens Spahn called for childless tax, saying that those without children should pay much more towards care and pension insurance than those who have started a family.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tax on childlessness, which existed in the Soviet Union, proposed to be restored" ("Налог на бездетность, существовавший в СССР, предлагают восстановить") (accessed January 3, 2010.)
  2. ^ a b Sudakov, Dmitry (September 15, 2006). "Childless Russian families to pay taxes for their social inaction". english.pravda.ru.
  3. ^ Ислам и мусульмане Южного Урала в историко-правовом пространстве России: Сборник законодательных актов, постановлений и распоряжений центральных и региональных органов власти и управления XX—XXI веках / Автор-составитель А. Б. Юнусова. Археограф Ю. М. Абсалямов. — Уфа: ГУП РБ УПК, 2009. — С. 246.
  4. ^ "О ПОЭТАПНОЙ ОТМЕНЕ НАЛОГА НА ХОЛОСТЯКОВ, ОДИНОКИХ И МАЛОСЕМЕЙНЫХ ГРАЖДАН СССР. Закон. Верховный Совет СССР. 23.04.90 1445-I". www.businesspravo.ru.
  5. ^ Art. 20 Personal Income Tax Decree of 26 Oct 1950, Dz.U. No. 7 of 1957 r., Item 26.
  6. ^ Kligman, Gail. "Political Demography: The Banning of Abortion in Ceausescu's Romania". In Ginsburg, Faye D.; Rapp, Rayna, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995 :234-255. Unique Identifier : AIDSLINE KIE/49442.
  7. ^ "Romanian Pro-Natalism by Max Rudert on Prezi". prezi.com. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  8. ^ "A second baby? Russia's mothers aren't persuaded". Christian Science Monitor. May 19, 2006.
  9. ^ "To Encourage More Births, Chinese Specialists Propose Birth Fund, Childless Tax". thediplomat.com.
  10. ^ "No children? Pay up: Chinese academics float 'maternity fund' tax for childless people". The Telegraph. 17 August 2018.
  11. ^ "German minister says childless people should pay more tax | DW | 09.11.2018". Deutsche Welle.