In 1535 the king of England Henry VIII, who himself wore a beard, imposed a tax on beards. The tax was progressive tax and depended on the social status of the taxpayer. His daughter, Elizabeth I, established this tax again, but it was related only to a 2-week beard wearer.
This tax appeared in Russia too, but the reason was different : it was charged in order to force people to shave and to be civilized and cultured as in in other European countries. The Russian Tsar Peter 1 imposed a tax on beards in Russia in 1705.
By the end of this year, the requirement to shave the beard was extended to the main groups of the urban population, According to the law entire male population of Russia (except priests, monks and peasants) was obliged to shave their beards and mustaches. A tax on beards was different and depended on the class of the property status of the person.
There were four categories of duties: courtiers, guards nobles, officials had to pay 600 rubles per year (a lot of money!); merchants – 100 rubles per year; tradespeople – 60 rubles per year; servants, coachmen and all ranks of Moscow residents – 30 rubles annually. Farmers didn’t have to pay beard taxes, but every time they entered into the city they were charged 1 penny “beard”.
Those who paid the beard tax, had to wear a special “beard token” – a copper or silver badge with the Russian eagle on one side and a picture of the lower face with a beard on the other.
It was inscribed with two phrases: “the beard tax has been taken” and “the beard is a superfluous burden”.
The tax on beards was canceled only in 1772.