Fit, working-age Russians who turn down jobs will face a charge of almost £200 – in sharp contrast to the state handouts jobless Britons can expect.
The levy has already been rolled out in neighbouring Belarus, where out-of-work adults are slapped with a fee until they agree to take jobs being offered to them.
Kremlin officials say they now intend to emulate the controversial scheme, which contrasts sharply with Britain’s welfare state.
Moscow’s deputy labour minister Andrei Pudov said the bold move by Belarus was a “significant step” towards addressing the economic crisis in Russia.
He told a conference on Thursday: “Our colleagues from Belarus could share their experience, they got serious innovations taking place in their country after they introduced the so-called tax on people of working age who do not take part in any work and do not make any insurance payments.
“This was a significant step. We are only discussing it now and they have already made the decision.”
Belarus introduced the law ‘On Preventing Social Parasitism’ in 2015, in a move described by critics as an attempt to criminalise unemployment.
Adults who have not paid income tax for at least six months of the year are fined around £170.
Students, parents with three or more children, and those aged under 18 or over the retirement age are exempt.
Opponents say it pushes those who are struggling to find work even deeper into poverty.
Officials in St Petersburg introduced a similar law a year ago to crackdown on jobless citizens turning down available jobs.
Those who refuse to work in Russia’s second largest city now face up to one year of mandatory community