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Putin’s War Will Soon Reach Russians’ Tax Bills

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is about to institute a rare tax increase on corporations and high earners, a move that reflects both the burgeoning costs of his war in Ukraine and the firm control he has over the Russian elite as he embarks on a fifth term in office.

Financial technocrats in Mr. Putin’s government are searching for new ways to fund not just an expensive war in Ukraine but also a broader confrontation with the West that is likely to remain costly for years. Russia is allocating nearly a third of its overall 2024 budget to national defense spending this year, a huge increase, adding to a deficit that the Kremlin has taken pains to keep in check.

The proposed tax increase underscores Mr. Putin’s rising confidence about his political control over the Russian elite and his country’s economic resilience at home, showing that he is willing to risk alienating parts of society to fund the war. It would represent the first major tax overhaul in over a decade.

“I think that this is a real sign of how comfortable he is,” said Richard Connolly, an expert on the Russian economy at Oxford Analytica, a strategic analysis firm. “The fact that they are doing it — they are looking to repair the house whilst the weather is good, or at least reinforce the walls from a fiscal point of view.”

President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow in March. He has said he is seeking a more equitable distribution of the tax burden.Credit…Nanna Heitmann for The New York Times

Military spending and high oil prices have buoyed the Russian economy and driven up wages, despite causing higher inflation and shortages in the labor market; that is probably leading financial officials to see the current moment as a good time to push through tax increases.

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