Staunton, May 26 – At a time of economic uncertainty and hardship, 45 percent of Russians say that it is sometimes perfectly appropriate not to pay taxes owed, a figure up by ten percent from a year ago and one that belies the reputation Russians have for being punctilious in their obedience to the state.
These results were gathered by pollsters for the Moscow Institute for Strategic Projects (rbc.ru/economics/26/05/2020/5ecb94709a79470c4ad71703novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/05/26/161779-tsentr-strategicheskih-razrabotok-pochti-polovina-rossiyan-schitayut-dopustimoy-neuplatu-nalogov).
Aleksandra Suslina, a Russian economic analyst, says that the growth in the percentage of Russians who feel it is all right to avoid paying taxes is “a very bad signal” which reflects “a decline in the trust citizens have in the actions of the government” and broad agreement in the population that the regime has not done enough to help them get through the crisis.
That Russians are suffering was underscored by other results of the Institute’s survey. More than 60 percent of those sampled said that their incomes had fallen between February and May with 43 percent saying that the decline had been 15 percent. And 53 percent said they expected more declines in the coming months.
Individual taxes represent a very small percentage of Russian government income, and so the actual financial loss to the government if people decide not to pay their taxes would be not difficult for the regime to cope with. But the attitudes behind such a refusal to pay represent something far more serious, a vote of no confidence as it were in the regime.