The paper proposes to consider the tax system in the light of the evolution of tax institutions (rules and instruments) guiding economic agents' behaviour. This approach makes it easier to justify the choice among the main directions of reforms in this sector of the Russian economy, which has traditional economic and sociocultural specificities. In this context, it is very important to analyse not only formal tax rules (laws, regulations, instructions, etc..), but also informal rules used by different branches of government, tax authorities and taxpayers. The analysis showed that in recent years the tax system of the Russian Federation has consistently improved, which was reflected in the dynamic of its position in Tax Paying Rating by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Bank Group. However, the great tax legislation improvement has not been accompanied adequate changes of informal tax norms. On the one hand, this is because it takes much time to form the new tax memes, habits and organizational routines, and, on the other hand, unlike in Western countries the economic environment in Russia has a lesser degree of transparency. Currently, the Russian government proposes different measures of tax policy that could solve the problem of fiscal consolidation. However, the general logic of successful tax evolution requires a different approach connected with tax measures that promote scientific and technological innovation and investment in the development of competitive proactive economic actors population. In this case the fact that the Russian government follows the previously announced policy not to tighten tax, as well as it adopts only that improvements which will be clearly understood by economic actors as part of the long-term national development strategy is of fundamental importance. To improve tax institutes also require long-term positive business practices based on cooperation and feedback from the political authorities and government bodies, which build a credible and solid foundation for cultivation of new informal tax rules in order to stimulate rapid socio-economic development.