I was a bit surprised to learn from this YouTube video (about Lottery in Soviet Union) that lottery of the kind where you had to guess like 6 numbers out of 49 or so existed in Soviet Union since early 1970's.

According to the video, this lottery was televised starting in 1976. And the top prize for it was 25,000 rubles. The answers to this question (at Quora) indicate that salaries in Soviet Union may have been around 100-300 rubles per month.

This would mean that the 25,000 rubles was like several years wage. Which surprised me since I had thought that USSR was supposed to (try to) promote a "classless society". Openly giving one person that much more money than to the other comrades did not seem like it was contributing to this ideal, in my opinion.

On this thought I wanted to ask how much the lottery income was taxed in Soviet Union?

  • I can't provide any references but as I can find (looked through several detailed articles about in Russian) the winning person paid no taxes at all. promote a "classless society" - that's rather a naive view... In USSR they always had higher paid vs lower paid jobs (with N-times salary difference) - but the income itself (lottery or whatever) has very few to do with "classes". Sep 7, 2019 at 2:00
  • Real or perceived inconsistencies in policies when compared to official ideology is pretty common in any system . I don’t think it makes much sense to ask why beyond funny anecdotes.
    – Greg
    Sep 7, 2019 at 8:00
  • "Classless society" was the aim of the whole Communist ideology, somewhere in the future, it was never said that the society in the USSR was classless, officially it had at least three classes: workers (the ruling class), peasants, and intelligentsia.
    – Yellow Sky
    Sep 9, 2019 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


Income taxes changed many times during the existence of Soviet Union. In 1980s there was non-taxed minimum of 70 r per month. After that sum the tax was progressive: up to 13% for those who obtained salary from the state.

But for the small number of people whose income was from private enterprise (officially called "non-labor income") the tax was 12% to 65% depending on the income, the highest tax bracket was for incomes more than 5000 r per year. So I suppose that the lottery winner had to pay 65% tax.

My sources are in Russian:


Remark. One could be very rich in Soviet Union even without private enterprise. For example, they payed royalties. So popular authors, writers, composers could have very large income. I suppose they were in the highest tax bracket.

  • 5
    So I suppose that the lottery winner had to pay 65% tax. - I guess you suppose that the tax was not already applied in the final "prize" value (i.e. the state arranging the lottery did not hold the tax before paying it to the same state). I still can't find any references mentioning any tax for the lottery so I'd rather trust my own memories form 80's (never won KK rubles, but did not pay a sinlge kopeyka as a tax from small winnings). Sep 7, 2019 at 9:55
  • 3
    The lotteries in the USSR were not taxed. Apart from money, one could also win some goods – usually the ones that could hardly be bought, дефицит, like TV-sets, fridges, cars, even the most expensive car a private person could buy, GAZ-24 "Volga", which cost 9,200–9,600 roubles in the mid-1970s and 11,200 roubles in 1983. According to you, if a person won such a car, he had to pay 7,280 roubles in taxes (65%) which is about 5 years' salary of an engineer with the salary of 120 roubles per month. In this case, winning a lottery would be a disaster.
    – Yellow Sky
    Sep 9, 2019 at 9:08
  • 1
    assuming lottery prizes are taxed as income is naive. Take the Netherlands. I come tax is progressive but typically around 50%. Lottery prizes are taxed at 25%, and many lottery organisations will cover that, the listed payouts being after taxes (this after a spade of unhappy winners who won cars in lotteries only to have to sell them for near scrap value only because they couldn't pay the tax and were forced to take any deal because the tax agency demanded immediate payment or face a hefty fine).
    – jwenting
    Sep 10, 2019 at 5:02
  • In state lotteries (except for “Sportloto”, “Sprint” and “Sportprognoz”), the prize was not money, but goods - cars, color TVs, etc. (денежно-вещевая лотерея)
    – A. Rumlin
    Sep 11, 2019 at 8:39
  • I don't have a source for this, but I think that lottery tax for monetary lotteries, if existed, was preapplied. On a side note, it was claimed during Soviet times, that winning lottery tickets were subject to black market sales with a hefty premium added (think +50% on top), as a source for money laundering. If there were additional tax on lottery, it would make for a very unfavourable black market value for winning tickets.
    – Gnudiff
    Oct 21, 2020 at 19:28

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