V. I.   Lenin

Re the Decree on
The Imposition of a Tax In Kind on Farmers[1]

Written: September 21, 1918
Published: Main provisions in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVIII; Remarks in 1945 in Lenin Miscellany XXXV. Printed from the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 107c-108.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Main Provisions of the Decree

The draft to be revised in 4 days as follows:

1) A popular preamble

(α) surpluses and equalisation  
(articles 17, 12 and others of the law on the socialisation of the land

(β) complete expropriation of the bourgeoisie

NB |||
(γ) the rich peasant not to be expropriated, but taxed equitably, heavily

(δ) middle peasants to be taxed lightly

(ε) poor peasants-not at all.

2) The division into poor (no taxes whatever), middle (very light taxes) and. rich peasants to be incorporated in the law itself.

3) % of poor to be fixed roughly at < 40%, middle peasants at < 20%.

4) Taxes on middle peasants to be reduced considerably.

5) Regional Soviet organisations shall be entitled to raise the question of changing the rates of taxation for the rich.

6) The poor to have the right to receive part of the collected grain (for food and seed).


Remarks On The Draft Decree


(1) Not all the 2 million are kulaks.

(2) A rich peasant may be very prosperous, but not an exploiter, etc.

(3) We expropriate and confiscate in the case of the capitalists, but not in the case of the rich peasant.

(4) Confiscation to be applied to kulaks who revolt and offer resistance.


[1] The question of introducing a tax in kind was raised by Lenin in his “Theses on the Food Question” written on August 2, 1918 (see present edition, Vol. 28, pp. 45-47). The draft decree for imposing a tax in kind on the farmers was first introduced at a meeting of the C.P.C. on September 4. It was discussed again at a meeting of the C.P.C. on September 21. It was probably during these meetings of the Council that Lenin jotted down his “Main Provisions of the Decree” and his remarks on the draft. (For Lenin’s documents connected with the drafting of the decree at this and other meetings of the Council of People’s Commissarsnotes, calculations, plan of a speech at the Council meetingsee also Lenin Miscellany X VIII, pp. 148-50.) The decree in its final form was adopted by the C.P.C. on October 26, endorsedby the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on October 30 and published in Izvestia on November 14, 1918. The extension of foreign military intervention and the civil war prevented this measure from being implemented.

Lenin’s principles for an income tax in kind drafted in ’1918 were elaborated and embodied in the food tax in the spring of 1921, which marked the postwar transition to peaceful economic construction on the basis of the New Economic Policy. The decree on the tax in kind adopted in October 1918 was mentioned by Lenin in his report on the political work of the C.C. at the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), when dealing with the question of replacing the surplus-appropriation system by a food tax (see present edition, Vol. 32, p. 187)

[2] Article 12 of the “Basic Law on the Socialisation of the Land’ endorsed by the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets on January 18 (31), 1918, and adopted at the session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on January 27 (February 9) runs as follows: “The distribution of land among the working people shall be carried out on an equalised labour basis in such a manner that the subsistence and labour norm adapted in the given area to the historically established system of land tenure should not exceed the available manpower on each individual farm and at the same time should allow the farmer’s family to make a fairly comfortable living.” Article 17 of the Law says: “The surplus income derived from naturally fertile superior plots as well as from their more advantageous location for marketing, shall be placed at the disposal of the Soviet authorities to be used for public needs” (Decrees of the Soviet Government, Vol. I, Moscow, 1957, pp. 408-09).

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