Because of this blog, our China lawyers get a fairly steady stream of China law questions from readers, mostly via emails but occasionally via blog comments or phone calls as well. If we were to conduct research on all the questions we get asked and then comprehensively answer them, we would become overwhelmed. So what we usually do is provide a super fast general answer and, when it is easy to do so, a link or two to a blog post that provides some additional guidance. We figure we might as well post some of these on here as well. On Fridays, like today.
The following question tends to come to us by phone and is never from our existing clients:
Question: I have _____ dollars of cash in my apartment in China. Can you tell me how to get it to the United States/Canada/Australia/Europe without having to pay taxes on it?
Come on. Did you really think that a lawyer is going to engage in criminal tax fraud with you. What is amazing about these callers is that at least half the time after one of our China lawyers makes clear that we are not going to help them, they tell us of their plan and ask what we think of it. Our response is that is illegal and you could end up in jail either in China or in the country in which you live (for bringing money into a country multiple times to try to get around the incoming country's money reporting laws) if you try that.
Usually their plan consists of taking the money back to their home country in chunks just small enough to avoid the money reporting laws of their home country. Sometimes the plan involves taking the money to Hong Kong. Sometimes it involves giving the money to someone shady to take it out for them and put it in a bank account in some other country and sometimes (but we also get plenty of calls from people wanting to sue when the courier keeps all of the money) the courier actually returns some small portion of the money.
Our advice: pay your taxes as you go along and then taking out your money out of China ought to be relatively easy, at least until recently. See Getting Money Out of China: What The Heck is Happening?
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.