My understanding of Soviet Union is that private enterprise was not allowed and that everyone essentially 'worked for the government'.

With this in mind, was there still an expectation that people submit yearly tax returns like in western countries?

  • 2
    People don't do that in the UK unless they're self-employed...
    – Ne Mo
    Feb 17, 2018 at 19:09
  • thanks for your comment, @NeMo, I did not in fact know that.
    – Ron Larsen
    Feb 18, 2018 at 21:43
  • 1
    No worries. I don't think people have to 'do their taxes' in most advanced countries. Why America is an exception, that's the real question
    – Ne Mo
    Feb 18, 2018 at 21:58
  • @NeMo AFAIK it's because of how USA views privacy: not having to file tax returns means that the government has a way of knowing your income without your input, in other words, government surveillance - something USA sitizens are usually against. Feb 19, 2018 at 2:29
  • @DanilaSmirnov Seems like that's actually already done?
    – user69715
    Feb 19, 2018 at 6:37

1 Answer 1


The answer is no, for the majority of people. Most people in the Soviet Union had only one (legitimate) source of income: their salary. Tax was withheld at source, at a specified rate, and none of these people had to file any tax returns. There was a very small class of people called artisans who officially worked and sold the product of their work themselves, and they had to file a tax return. The rules for, and the number of, these people varied with time, but since the 1920s this was a very small minority. There was no tax on interest income (on bank deposits, bonds, etc.)

  • 1
    Strictly speaking there were other sources of income: property rentals (dachas etc), private sales, private services (such as typewriting), lottery wins, etc. That said I have no idea how (or wether at all) them were reported and taxed.
    – user58697
    Feb 20, 2018 at 19:23
  • Most of these other sources were never reported (except perhaps lottery wins, and sales of registered property like homes or cars).
    – Alex
    Feb 20, 2018 at 20:40

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