A bachelor tax – not so unlikely

There is a lot of discussion, particularly in MGTOW circles, but also in the wider MRM, about the likelihood that the State could introduce a bachelor tax in case too many men decide to go full MGTOW and opt out of family life. Whenever this topic is brought up, many think that an outright bachelor tax is unlikely given that it hasn’t happened for quite some time now… or so you might think. Of course, it depends on how one defines “quite some time” but a European country had such a tax that was abolished in the last days of 1989.

Now, a form of “bachelor tax” is existent today in many countries in the form of tax credits or deductions awarded to those who are married or who have children in their care. But Communist Romania went one step further and levied a tax on all the individuals who were still childless by the age of 25.


Under Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian Communist Party decided to increase the birthrate in the country – being dissatisfied with how the population recovered numerically following the World War II.

The first measure came in 1966 when Romania shifted from a country with some of the most liberal legislation with respect to contraception and abortion, to a country closer to a theocracy.

The decree number 770/1966 banned abortion almost entirely except for rape and incest victims, those whose pregnancy threatened their lives, those who already had 4 children, those who were over the age of 45 and those who were at a high risk of transmitting serious genetic diseases to the child.[1] The decree also specified that in those cases where abortion should be allowed, that decision ought to be taken by a special commission on case-by-case basis.

This decree led to a spectacular increase in birthrates in the next few years, but then it started falling again – mainly because the population started to find workarounds but also due to back alley abortions.

The second measure occurred in late 1970s when already scarce contraceptives started to slowly disappear from socialist commerce. The contraceptives were never outright banned but by the early 1980s huge areas of the country were de facto contraceptive-free (especially the towns and villages). The only way you could get contraceptives was from the black market (and only in the big cities) or, in some rare occasions, through special allowance from a regulated drug store (but it would take at least 2 months just to get 10 condoms or a 30 day supply of oral contraceptives for women).

The de facto ban on contraceptives also produced minor increases in birthrates and then more drops. Therefore, in 1980 Decree 770 was amended and restricted abortion even further to only those who had 5 children in their care.

It should also be noted that in 1981, the Communist regime decided to pay the entire national debt (which it did by May 1, 1989) which led to a draconian ration program on everything – and that means literally everything, including the most basic goods such as butter, oil, bread, potatoes, electric energy – you name it.

The celibacy tax

In this context, of absurd desire of the supreme leader to increase birthrates and to pay off national debt by quite literally starving the population gave birth to the so-called celibacy tax of 1986.[2]

The celibacy tax was not per se a tax on those who were celibate – but a tax on the individuals who were still childless by the time they were 25. The goal of the State was to increase the population (in order to have more workers available to build the Communist dream – even though it was already a nightmare of North Korean proportions). Consequently, getting married was not enough. Getting married was recommended because you could request a bigger apartment from the Party (virtually all apartments and most of the houses were owned by the State) but in order to avoid the celibacy tax, one had to have at least one child.

The cost of the tax varied between 150 and 350 lei[3] per month and it was levied from one’s salary using the model of social security taxes widely used today virtually everywhere in Europe. In other words, you could not avoid paying it since the money was deducted from the salary in advance.

At an exchange rate of 12 lei to the dollar, the maximum tax was 30 1986 dollars – which is roughly $63 in today’s money.[4] That may not seem a lot until you take into consideration that salaries rarely exceeded $250 per month (a minister had a salary of 3060 lei/month – which is 255 1986 dollars) – it’s more than clear that the celibacy tax was a serious burden representing 12-13% of salary on top of already existant taxes — no small amount given the collectivist nature of that regime.

In theory, the tax applied to both men and women (regardless of their marital status) but in practicality, the tax was paid overwhelmingly by men. This is also clear due to the fact that everyone – men and women – referred to this tax in the common lexicon as taxa pe sulă (literally the tax on the dick).

The reasons for this had a lot to do with biology and with inherent gynocentrism. A woman could get a certificate of infertility fairly easy (even if she was fertile) and that certificate would exempt her from being subjected to this tax. Like in all communist countries, the doctors were State functionaries and were as corrupt as any other functionary in that era so for a few hundred lei or for a few packs of Kent (that cigarette brand was a common currency for many bribes) a doctor would write almost anything you needed on a certificate, as long as it was likely to be true. And given the poor state of the general health following the draconic rationalization plan implemented in 1981, it was quite likely for a woman to be infertile for a certain period of time. Also, due to gynocentrism, a doctor was more likely to accept to lie in a certificate when a woman requested it than when a man did the same.

The tax was levied independent of marital status. Fertile men married to infertile women would routinely be subjected to the celibacy tax. Divorce was, in theory, an option, but there were disincentives for divorce – like the danger of being relegated to a lower paid job for no longer being “morally reliable”.[5]

For some people (mainly men) this tax was just the tip of the iceberg because the official propaganda pandering to the pre-existent gynocentrism fed in to a system of peer-pressure on the childless, a pressure even worse in some ways than the tax. Ana Pop, former employee in a Chemical Plant in Baia Mare during that time said[6]:

The worst part was that there was a sort of shame induced on those who were childless. It was a genuine psychological drama which affected those individuals more than the material taxation.

Again, there only a minority of women were subjected to this tax. The most famous woman who was subjected to this was Olympic gymnast Nadia Comăneci,[7] who turned 25 just when the tax was introduced in 1986. Some speculated that she was specifically required to pay (despite the common practice of exempting sportsmen and sportswomen from some of the ridiculous laws) as a punishment for her attempt to defect in 1981[8], though Comăneci only mentions increased monitoring upon her return in 1981[9]. No mention of increased taxation as punishment.


As is the case with many tragedies that happened during the Communist era, the culture nowadays is experiencing a willful period of forgetting; a serious concern given that those who forget their history are bound to repeat it.

Many of the people who have been subjected to this tax, or had people in their families who were, are unwilling to talk about it and would rather just simply to forget everything. There are very few articles in the press talking about it – despite the fact that everyone in Romania over the age of 30 knows it existed or knows someone who was subjected to it.

Although there are still people around who have known men who eventually committed suicide because they couldn’t “man up” and fulfill their duty to the Party and have children, nobody wishes to study this. There are a few dozens of studies about how communism impacted women in Romania – but no study whatsoever about, for instance, how many men committed suicide as a direct result of communist family policies.

It is often claimed that communism affected women more due to the harsh restrictions on abortions which lead to the death of a few thousands of women from back alley abortions. That’s true. The harsh enforcement of the Decree 770 led to a lot of deaths and even more imprisonments of both women (for attempting to have an abortion) and men (for trying to help) – but in the same time, virtually 100% of political prisoners who were tortured and killed were men. And the memory of that tragedy is also fading away.

In 1946, the average life expectancy at birth for men in Romania was slightly over 65 years and for women it was 72. In 1989, the life expectancy for men was 65 (lower than in 1946) and for women it was slightly over 74.[10] Yet somehow this fact also goes unmentioned – just like the celibacy tax. But that’s a story for another day…


[1] http://www.legex.ro/Decretul-770-1966-363.aspx – Decree no.770 Issued by the State Council of the Socialist Republic of Romania. Published in the Official State Bulletin no.60/October 1st, 1966 (full text – in Romanian)

[2] http://jurnalul.ro/scinteia/special/celula-de-baza-a-societatii-oficial-indivizibila-319713.html – Celula de bază a societății – oficial indivizibilă, published in Jurnalul Național, March 13, 2009

[3] http://www.glasul.ro/view_article_numar.php?show=26054&name=Celibatul_si_lipsa_copiilor_taxate_aspru_in_comunism&numar=2010-12-15 – Ionuț Horoba – Celibatul şi lipsa copiilor – taxate aspru în comunism (Celibacy and the lack of children – harshly taxed under communism), published in Glaslul Maramureșului, December 14, 2010.

[4] http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi – Inflation calculator: What cost $30 in 1986 would cost $62.76 in 2013.

[5] ibidem 2

[6] ibidem 3

[7] http://www.historia.ro/exclusiv_web/general/articol/iubirile-nadiei-epoca-aur – Marian Burlacu – Iubirile Nadiei în Epoca de Aur, published in Historia

[8] Ryan, Joan – Little Girls in Pretty Boxes – 1995, Doubleday, p. 201

[9] Comăneci, Nadia – Letters to a Young Gymnast – 2004, Basic Books. p. 121

[10] http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/03/16/ije.dyr061/F1.expansion.html

Recommended Content

%d bloggers like this: