“Opulence. I has it,” says the caricatured Russian oligarch in the advert.
An extravagant mansion on Rublyovka, a Bentley in the garage and a yacht on the Mediterranean. For years, these trophies of conspicuous consumption have been a defining feature — and even a necessity — for Russia’s new rich.
But the infamous opulence of the Russian rich has come under fire from an unlikely source — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Putin proposed a tax on what he called “prestigious consumption” in an article outlining his economic program that he published in Vedomosti on Jan. 30.
“Key steps should be taken this year so that next year owners of expensive houses and cars pay more tax,” he wrote, adding that care should be taken to guarantee that the new tax does not hit the middle class.
He later expanded on the concept at a round table with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, where he said the tax should become “a form of publicly recognised payment for refusing to invest in development in favour of overconsumption and vanity.”
To ensure minimal impact on business, the tax would only be paid by private individuals. Putin has suggested that economics is a minor concern. He went on the record as saying it would have “minimal fiscal significance,” describing the proposed tax as a “moral-ethical” measure.
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