“Provocation and Nonsense:” the State Duma Comments on the Idea of Imposing Tax on Cats and Dogs

“Provocation and Nonsense:” the State Duma Comments on the Idea of Imposing Tax on Cats and Dogs

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According to officials in the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha) in northeastern Siberia, the funds collected from the masters of dogs and cats might be used to recover the costs which the authorities bankroll when they finance the removal stray animals.

The first rumors that Russians may face taxes for having pets appeared as early as last year. They caused resonance that quickly faded, as no confirmation was found. Later, the same topic was occasionally raised in the media and by some speakers. However, it didn’t lead to anything serious. Anyway, it is out in the spotlight again, as the real legislative initiative to introduce a tax on pets in Russia has taken a practical outline.

This idea belongs to Sardana Avksentyeva, city manager of Yakutsk city administration, who instructed the mayor's office and the city council to discuss with their colleagues from the State Assembly of the Republic of Yakutia the possibility of introducing a tax or a levy on pet owners.

According to the idea of the Sakha officials, the funds collected from people that way might be used to recover the costs which the authorities have to cover when they bankroll the removal stray animals. In other words, the first legislative steps have been taken in this direction, albeit at the regional level.

However, Avksentyeva's initiative may be hindered by a rather tough response from deputies of the State Duma, who sharply criticized the very idea of taking money from pet owners. Moreover, according to Vladimir Burmatov, head of the State Duma's specialized committee, there might be even more stray cats and dogs in Russia if the mandatory payment for pets is introduced. Burmatov called the initiative of Yakutia officials “a provocation and nonsense.”

“I would suggest levying tax on Yakutia’s officials who propose things of this kind,” Burmatov said. “There will never be a tax of this sort in Russia. Nobody is going even to discuss it.” According to the deputy, people will simply start throwing their pets out into the street when they find out that they have to pay taxes for them. “Some old lady will calculate that all her cats will be taxed. Then she will throw them out even before the tax is introduced,” said Burmatov.

However, not everyone agrees with his position. For example, one of the experts said in an interview with the Moscow-based Izvestia daily that the proposal of the mayor of Yakutsk was quite reasonable. The expert explained his position by the fact that at the moment there is a real necessity for additional funding for the care and control of stray animal populations. “These taxes could become not only a tool to replenish regional budgets, but also a lever to influence dog and cat owners,” said the expert. “Sometimes this category of residents allows themselves to treat not only their pets irresponsibly, but also people around them.”