Tax Based On Nationality In Turkey – 1942

A new property tax (Varlık Vergisi) was approved by the Turkish parliament on November 11, 1942. It was proposed by then Prime Minister Mehmet Şükrü Saracoğlu. The stated idea was the establishment of an additional tax on the property of Turkish citizens to raise funds for the country’s defense should it enter WWII. Here, it should be noted that Turkey was more sympathetic to Germany.

Historians believe that this way, the government in reality decided to move business into the hands of the Islamic bourgeoisie because at the time, a significant number of enterprises were controlled by ethnic minorities.

The levied tax varied depending on the nationality and religion of citizens. Each year, Christian Armenians were forced to pay 232% of the value of their property, Jews 179%, Greek Christians 156%, and Muslims (who were not categorized by nationality) only 4.94%.

If a citizen could not pay the tax, he would be sent to labor camps located in the southeast of the country, and the owed funds would be collected from relatives.

Within 2 years of the existence of the tax in Turkey, the business of ethnic minorities was virtually eliminated. A wave of suicides swept through the country, and second-hand furniture auctions became commonplace on city streets.

In 1944, under pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom, the tax was repealed. The parliament agreed with the objections, pretending to be well aware of the imminent end of the war.

Nonetheless, the property tax of 1942-1944 entered the modern history of Turkey as one of the most aggressive acts of government-backed ethnic nationalism.

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