NEW YORK (Jan. 24)
Observers here said today that the Soviet Union apparently has no intention of rescinding the education head tax levied on emigrants with academic degrees. They said this was indicated by the first official publication in Moscow this week of the diploma tax law adopted last Aug. 3 and the regulations governing the scale of payments which have been in effect since Dec. 26, according to a report published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin Jan. 12.
The observers said today that as long as the law and its attendant regulations remained unpublished, Soviet authorities could have cancelled it without loss of face. Publication now seems to indicate that the Kremlin does not intend to back down in face of widespread criticism of the “ransom tax” abroad.
The lag in publishing the scale of payments until now was seen as an indication that until recently Soviet authorities were undecided as to what that scale should be. But late last-month Deputy Interior Minister Boris Shumilin announced through Novosti, the Soviet external news agency, that the scale would decrease proportionately with the number of years the holder of an academic degree has worked in his field. He also said that pensioners and disabled veterans would be exempted.
The regulations published in Moscow indicate that the school from which an emigrant received a diploma also has a bearing on the size of the tax. The highest tax is demanded of graduates of Moscow University, the Soviet Union’s most prestigious institution of higher learning. Among specialized schools, graduates of music conservatories and other advanced schools in the arts and letters are required to pay a higher tax than graduates of teachers colleges and law schools.