13:22 GMT +319 February 2018
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    Federation Council speaker opposes childlessness tax in Russia

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    MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - The speaker of the Russian parliament's upper house said Thursday the restoration of the childlessness tax in Russia, which was in force during Soviet times, would not help solve the country's ongoing demographic problems.

    Demographic shortfalls dominated the Russian president's May 10 State of the Nation address, when he said the population, which stood at roughly 145 million in a 2002 census, was decreasing by 700,000 people a year.

    According to UN forecasts, Russia's population will almost halve in the 21st century. Predications suggest it will fall from 144 million in 2001, to 101.5 million people in 2050, before reaching a low of 79.5 million in the second half of the century.

    "We must not introduce the childlessness tax in Russia today, and this is my principled conviction," Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said in response to initiatives by members of parliament's lower house to re-introduce the tax.

    The childlessness tax was introduced in November 1941 on direct orders from Josef Stalin, who wanted to improve the country's demographic situation. Males between the ages of 20 and 50, and married females aged 20-45, had to pay 6% of their incomes if they were childless.

    "We are actively working to resolve our demographic problems," Mironov said. "We are implementing a complex set of measures to stimulate young families to have children. But at the same time, we are trying to 'punish' them for not having children quickly enough. I am sure that such 'punishment' will not help resolve either the demographic or any other problems in society."

    In his State of the Nation address, Putin instructed the government to give women at least 250,000 rubles ($9,200) each as financial aid following the birth of a second child. He also instructed the government to consider the country's immigration policy.

    Mironov said that low wages and the absence of their own homes are the main reasons that young families are not having children.

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