Selling Vodka: The Tax Farmers
What was the nature and influence of the tax farm ‘interest’ in Russia during the 19th century? This chapter looks at the tax farmers themselves as a group of entrepreneurs and explores the extent and limitations of their influence. Altogether, in 1859 there were 216 tax farmers throughout the Empire, owing the government a total sum of 127,769,488 rubles a year, or more than 590,000 rubles each. However, as some individuals owned several tax farms, the actual number of tax farmers was less than the number of distinct tax farms. As a group, the tax farmers were ultimately responsible for mobilizing the huge concentrations of wealth funnelled through the liquor trade. The first step in entering the business was to mobilize the capital necessary to bid at the tax farm auctions. In order to understand the attitudes, milieu, and political influence of the Russian tax farmers more fully, it would be valuable to look at the career of Vasilii Aleksandrovich Kokorev (1817–1889) in tax farming.
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