This issue of OZ starts a debate on taxes and taxation – in Russia and abroad. No doubt that virtually everyone, both individuals and corporate taxpayers, is interested in the topic. How should an efficient fiscal system work? Is there such an efficient system in the world? To what extent can the current taxation situation in Russia be altered and improved? We have collected works by Russian fiscal specialists that summarize important theoretical points and analyze how the current taxation system is being reformed, along with some interesting historical and foreign material that forms a wider context for the discussion.

The issue’s featured theme is opened by The Myths and The Reality section.

Yuri Kuznetsov, Candidate of Economics, Institute of Economic Forecasting, Russian Academy of Sciences, in his “What We Do Not Know About Taxes” poses the main taxation questions that should be answered.

Dr Vladimir Vasiljev, economist, who is a Senior Research Assistant at the Institute of USA and Canada, Russian Academy of Sciences, in his “The History of Two Revolutions” writes on the changes in fiscal policies in the United States under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Junior.

“On Taxes with Love” is the article by economist Dr Sergei Sinelnikov-Murylev who is Deputy Director of the Institute For the Economy in Transition. The author describes the state of the fiscal system in contemporary Russia, its problems, successes, and steps in the reforming process.

Sergei Pavlenko’s “The Pitfall Dialectics” describes tax traps set by the state during the period of liberal economic reform. Mr. Pavlenko is an economist working for the government of the Russian Federation

The section also contains references on the fiscal system of the Russian Federation and the structure of the Russian tax administration.

In the History of the Issue section, Grigorii Sapov, Candidate of Economics and private consultant, tells a story of the creation and evolution of the institution of taxation – from Moses until today.

You will also find in this section an excerpt from one of the issues of XIX-century Otechestvennye Zapiski about the salt tax, which used to constitute one of the Russian state budget’s income items.

Oleg Basov, M. A. (he is doing his doctorate at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), contributed to the section his “On The History of the Federal Income Tax in the United States”.

There are also two reference texts in the section: on the history of taxation and on the value added tax.

In the Point of View section, please read two interviews and three papers:

Kaha Bendukidze (he is the General Manager of the NIPEK Oil Investment and Industrial Eurasian Corporation) argues that taxes are supposed to be a form of payment by citizens to the state for such services as providing security and protecting property.

Arkadii Dvorkovich, Deputy Minister ofEconomic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation, is quite convinced that the current fiscal reform is going to result in Russia’s having the best tax system in the universe.

Alexander Dolgin in his “Pragmatics of Taxation” is examining how taxation policy influences the balance among the parts of the state—business—bureaucracy system.

Igor Chernyshevsky in his “Philistine Calculation and the State’s Benefit” analyzes the functions of taxation from economic, political, and even literary perspectives.

You could also find interesting some related facts from the two references offered in the section: on offshore business taxation and on “tax optimization”.

In the Publication section, we also introduce the Russian reader to an excerpt of Prof.JamesM. Buchanan’s “The Power to Tax”. Buchanan, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, 1986, is currently Advisory General Director of the Center for Study of Public Choice and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics, George Mason University, and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and Philosophy at Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Blacksburg.

Some theoretical points about some taxes in current use are summarized in the reference text at the end of the section.

The Position section presents an interview with Leonid Rabinovich in which he points out that taxes can be collected easily – if you really want to do it. The policies of reducing the benefits from evading taxes and increasing the risks of nonpayment along with building a comprehensive accounting system are the tools of effective tax collection. But these policies are not yet practiced in Russia.

Gennadii Lebedev, The Vangvart LLC, Vice-President, and the one of the authors of the legislative package on the reform of the Tax Code in Russia, questions “How Much Do the State’s Promises Cost, or How to Solve the Nonpayment Problem?”

Excerpts from an issue of the original Otechestvennye Zapiski on the issues of cadastre and financial statistics tell some interesting facts about how this business was administered in theXIX-century Russia.

In the Practitioners section, there are two articles and a reference.

Elena Shkrebela, Senior Research Assistant at the Institute For the Economy in Transition contributed “Reforming the Taxation of the Small Business”. The author demonstrates how all of the currently proposed ways of reforming small business taxation are infringing on its interests.

“Taxes That We Don’t Choose” is by Vladislav Vasiljev, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economic Theory, Moscow State Forest University (MSFU). The author scrutinizes promises of tax improvement contained in the various programs of today’s Russian political parties.

The section reference contains information on small business taxation.

In the At First Hand section, read a monologue by a Tax Police officer Nikolai Ivanov, “Why Do They Think We Are Goblins?”

The Publication section is continued by a piece by Dr Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Professor of Economics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who writes on the economic and sociological theory of taxation.

The Besides segment of the issue offers additional topics of interest:

The Hypotheses section contains three essays:

Dr Theodore Shanin, Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, Rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, and Full Member of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences in his “Lessons of History and the Next Revolution” tells about the eminent Russian reformer, Petr Stolypin, who was appointed both Minister of Interior and Prime Minister in 1906, and his agricultural reforms.

Philosopher Natalya Zarubina (Moscow State Institute of International Relations, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in her “Business Ethics in the Russian Culture” ponders on the subject while describing merchants and industrialists in XIX-century Russia.

In “From Shame to Joy”, Gennadii Aksenov observes the evolution of dominant cultural concepts: from Shame to Guilt to Joy. (Gennadii Aksenov is a Senior Research Assistant at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology).

The New World section offers essays on current European politics by Dr Ruslan Khestanov, “The French Lessons”, and by pedagogue and journalist, Jens Renner, on the politics of Silvio Berlusconi and his predecessors in Italy.

This time, the Old World section brings to you an essay by historian Irina Kulakova, M. A., Research Assistant at the History Department, Moscow State University, about Andrei Kraevskii, the publisher of the Otechestvennye Zapiski Journal from 1839 to 1884.

In the Country of OZ section, you will find three essays: “What is Verbatim” by playwright and translator Alexander Rodionov – about the project of documentary theatre in Russia; “Moscow Freight Yard: The Suburban Electric Train” by playwright Sergei Kaluzhanov; and Maria Kuzmina’s “The Moscow Magnetic Anomaly” (the author is an essayist and literary editor of the Alphabet Weekly magazine).

In our Book Review section, Igor Chernyshevsky, Yaroslav Dobroliubov, Mikhail Mayatsky, and Vladimir Malakhov dissect new books of interest.