For Fathers Day My boys bought me a new electric shaver… All I could think about was tax avoidance…
That is because in 1698, the cleanly shaved Emperor of Russia, in a hope to make Russia men look more European, instituted a Beard Tax. If you have a beard you have to pay a tax.
But how do you prove you have paid your tax? This was an important question as the police would forcibly and publicly shave those who had a beard and had not paid the tax.
The solutions was that when you paid your tax you were given a medallion to show the tax was paid. You had to keep it on you when in public to prove to the police you were allowed to have your beard. The medallion looked like this:
And just to prove that even a tax as simple as a Beard Tax can be made complicated by public servants… There were multiple rates of Beard Tax. Unfortunately it was not based on the bushiness of the beard, but on the person it was on…
- Imperial Court, military, or government members – 60 rubles annually
- Wealthy merchants – 100 rubles annually
- Merchants and townsfolk – 60 rubles annually
- Muscovites – 30 rubles annually; and
- Peasants – two half-kopeks (100th of a ruble) every time they entered a city.