International Conference on Ottoman Empire Studies in Three Continents , İstanbul, Turkey, 21 - 22 August 2021, pp.21
This study aims to examine the validity and reality of the claims that heavy taxes were imposed on the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire towards the end of the 19th century, through Ottoman archives. As it is known, ‘the Armenian question’ is among the issues that are discussed fiercely today, by claiming that the Ottoman administration used taxation against the Armenians. Moreover, it is alleged that the properties of Armenians were extorted and sold at low prices due to this heavy tax burden, and thus their tax debts were paid. It is also stated that as a result of all the above allegations, Armenians left their places. Based on these allegations it is claimed that heavy taxation played a crucial role in the revolts of the Armenians against the Ottoman State, and so these revolts are positioned with a justification. However, these claims are not supported by archival documents; on the contrary, they are shaped around biased thoughts. Because there are many regulations in favor of Armenians in the field of taxation in the Ottoman archives. For example, archival documents reveal that tax reductions were introduced, or taxes were postponed upon the petitions of Armenians. On the other hand, especially as a result of the uprisings in the regions where Armenians lived, Armenians who lost their ability to pay experienced some problems in paying their taxes. The Ottoman administration did not force them to pay their taxes in the said regions; on the contrary, it offered them some conveniences such as the deferral of taxes. There are also some documents underline that Armenians made false claims to benefit from these tax benefits. In conclusion, this study reveals that, contrary to the idea that taxation was used as a means of pressure against Armenians under the Ottoman administration, taxes were used to facilitate their daily lives. It is thought that this inference may allow us to reconsider the allegations made against the Ottomans over ‘the Armenian question’.