37. One who is searching …
This is from the old Soviet-time song. The text is wisely silent on the subject of what exactly this person is going to find. It can be something he is searching for or just a major pain in the butt and, in the last case, will this be a butt of one who is searching or somebody elses’s. In the cases when it is Peter who is conducting a search, we can be certain that, no matter how successful he is going to be in finding whatever he was looking for, a royal (or rather imperial) pain in somebody’s butt is going to be guaranteed.
«Кто ищет, тот всегда найдет»
(One who is searching will always find…)
To give a general background, the direct taxes had been paid by the peasants and city folks. The nobility and clergy had been excluded and, in the casecof clergy, the Church property (including the serfs) had been free from the taxation. Directly taxing nobility was out of question which leaves….
The war is finally over so the time came for starting paying attention to the budget. And, to be able to do an efficient fleecing of your subjects, it makes sense to find out how many of them do you have because the wise heads in the “income department”  gave him an idea to switch from a household-based tax to an individual one . A conducted and revised census  discovered that Peter is in a possession of 5.4M taxable
The 1st post-war budget looked as following .
army - 3.141M rubles
navy - 0.781M rubles
schools, academies and medicine - 64,700 rubles (1%)
Total: 6.24M rubles
head tax - 4.6M (54% of all income)
indirect taxes - 2.13M (24.9%)
income from minting the coins - 2.5%
custom dues - 1.8% 
salt monopoly - 7.76%
So, formally, Peter was OK, except that the direct taxes paid by the peasants more than doubled raising from 1.8M to 4.6M. But, with the war being over, Peter had plans.
All types of plans. And for this he needed to increase a size of the taxable flock. And when one is searching….
It did not take long to figure out that there was a big fat resource, the monasteries. Russia had 953 monasteries (732 male, 221 female) with 11,153 people in them. What was much more important, they owned 910,866 male serfs and did not pay taxes
. Something must be done about this and in 26 February 1710 Peter issued a manifest regarding the Church properties  (if you can’t tax the Church property, the most logical action is to confiscate it and then
1. All land possessions of the Church are to be transferred to the state Collegium of Economy.
2. All Church institutions were removed from administration of the estates, monasteries, parishes and dioceses.
3. Peasant who live in these estates are transferred into jurisdiction of the Collegium of Economy.
4. Instead of “barschina” and “obrok” these peasants will have to pay 1.5 rubles of head tax which will go to the state treasury through the Collegium of Economy.
5. Collegium of Economy is going to allocate certain amount for maintenance of the Church institutions.
6. Dioceses are being divided into 3 classes and will be getting money according to the assigned class.
The manifest was rubber-stamped by the Synod  and, except for 5 or 6 extremely prestigious
monasteries, the officially supported monasteries had been divided in 3 classes (based upon their prestige) as following:
1st class: 15 monasteries and 4 nunneries
2nd class: 41 and 18
3rd class: 100 and 45
There were also monasteries which did not get the state money and had to exist either by the gifts or by the monk/nuns working on their land:
1st class - 20, 2nd - 56, 3rd - 85.
Of course, not everybody in the Church was happy. The Bishop of Yaroslavl, rather foolishly, became vocal for which he was removed from his position, declared to be a criminal and spent the rest of his life in a monastery prison.
The only exception had been made for the monasteries in Siberia, taking into an account their importance in a process of expanding the Russian control there.
Byproduct of this reform (besides making the Russian Church completely dependent
from the government) was creation of a new category of the peasants, so-called “economic peasants”, similar to the category of the “state peasants”: they were personally free
and just had to pay taxes in cash and participate in the state-run projects.
Second cash cow were the Old Believers. In 1709 Peter issued ukaz which legalized them and allowed to get engaged in trade and professional activities: [Tsar] “does not want to force people’s consciousness and allows each Christian to take care of his soul as he seems fit”.  The result was almost immediate: communities of the Old Believers immediately became very active in the trade and business creating “community banks” and their own manufactures in which they had been hiring
 exclusively their co-religionists: the religious solidarity allowed the owners to exploit their workers while avoiding the conflicts because an employer was considered one of their own in a generally alien outside world.
The next potential
source of a revenue were the newly-acquired land on the Black Sea. The Crimea itself had been left pretty much untouched except for establishing the Russian administration and ongoing construction of a new base for the Black Sea fleet: maintaining the status quo allowed continuation of a profitable trade with the Ottomans with the expectation that sooner rather than later development of the “Wild Steppe” will allow to increase the grain exports to the Ottoman Empire (Constantinople itself was a very big market with the population very sensitive to any kind of the supply problems). But this left what was now called “Novorossia”: a big chunk of land practically void of a population.
The 1st action was to move there 20,000 state peasants. To everybody’s (pleasant) surprise, the Old Believers demonstrated a considerable enthusiasm and few thousands of them even moved there from the Ottoman Empire to which they fled during the previous reigns. The next big group were all types of the serfs, Russian and Ukrainian, escaping from their masters and even the criminals. To get as many people as possible ASAP, state unofficially made the region a safe heaven with no extradition and even declared that all escapees (including the army deserters) who made it abroad can return not just with a full pardon but with tax free 6 years as a bonus.
The Greek and Armenian immigrants had been getting 10 years free of taxation and 30 hectares of land.
However, not everything was that rosy. In parallel, a process of creating the big estates was going on. The private persons (state officials, officers and foreigners) could get the land on a condition of populating it either with the free people or with the serfs. Minimal allotment was 1,500 hectares of a good land on which 13 households must be settled, with the corresponding increase of the settlers the allotment could grow up to 12,000 hectares but the influential, people could get more. For 10 years the estates had been free from all taxation and obligations and after that could become a permanent property.
 Peter had a special institution of «прибыльщики», the people inventing the sources of state income. The first «прибыльщик» started his career by proposing to conduct all official business (purchase and sake documentation, will, applications to the official institutions, etc.) exclusively on a special paper with the state seal. Depending upon the importance of a subject, it would cost 10, 1 or 0.5 kopeck per list.
 This being the early XVIII and an issue of the gender equality is not being there, yet, the head count applied only to the males (AFAIK, there were no protests from the obviously discriminated women with a demands for being equally taxed: Russia of that period was a very backward country). We can only speculate how much more money Peter would be able to squeeze if he had more progressive ideas.
 Revision conducted “just in case” discovered that the census “missed” approximately 2.000,000 males. After which the revisions had been conducted on a regular basis. To make the process practical (Russia simply did not have enough bureaucrats), the estate owners had to provide the lists of their serfs.
 Numbers from the budget of 1724.
 As you can see, so far this was not a major source of income except that it was producing gold and silver. State monopolies on the most important export items and/or a sharp increase in their volume could increase importance of this component but not overnight and to increase exports you need an increased demand.
 To quote from “Mecklenburg series”, “he issued a degree according to which there was only one form of a punishable heresy in his lands: not paying the taxes”.
 According to wiki it was issued on 26 February of 1764 by Catherine II but wiki is famous for its mistakes. At least the day is correct (snd who the Hell is “Catherine II”?).
 Really happened in 1709. What is not happening
in this TL is another part of the OTL deal: double taxation, extra taxes on the beards, marriages, etc., special dress, and other restrictive measures.
 As a contrast to the prevailing serf-based industry.