Marking the centenary of income tax in Russia: theoretical analysis of key stages of the reform

Igor A. Mayburov


Next year will mark 100 years since introduction of the first law on income tax in Russia. Over this period a number of reforms of income taxation has been conducted, and various results have been achieved. It has become of importance to analyze the experience of income taxation reforms. This article aims at studying formation and reformation of income taxation in Russia. The work singles out and analyzes five stages of income taxation formation in Russia, the main focus being on the analysis of the two last stages of income tax functioning: during the transition to the market economy and in the market economy. The article identifies the main prerequisites of the personal income tax reform in 2001 and analyzes the results of the reform. The article validates the conclusion that the reform had mixed results. The transition to the proportional model of the individual income tax failed to significantly affect the fiscal significance of this tax, and did not lead to the desired legalization of salaries or a drastic decrease in the share of wages paid off the books. Moreover, the income tax reform did not result in a significant decrease in the number of tax concessions that reduced the neutrality and fiscal significance of the tax. At the same time, the income tax reform made it possible to drastically increase the neutrality and economic effectiveness of this tax, reduced the cost of administration for taxpayers, withholding agents and tax services. In view of a possible new reform of the tax, the article makes an assumption that return to the progressive tax rates will fall short of expectations of the poor as the wealth gap in Russian society will not be reduced. The article draws a conclusion that as achievement of the expected results is not guaranteed, preserving the existing model of personal income tax may be the most pragmatic option. At the same time, it might be advisable to conduct the inventory of tax deductions, and, possibly, to cancel some of them, the ones enjoyed by the rich in the first place.


income tax; personal income tax; income tax reform; proportional rate; progressive rate

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