China: China Tax Reform 2016

Last Updated: 4 July 2016
Article by Daniel Xu

Several significant changes to China's tax policies took place in the first half of 2016. These changes are no surprise given the Chinese government's directions on how the economy should be carried forward.

With its intention to transform the nation into a service-oriented economy, the government has progressively rolled out the business tax (BT) to value added tax (VAT) reform, and the final stage was implemented on 1 May 2016.

In the meantime, the buzz on cross-border e-commerce has also caught the attention of the tax authorities. The switch from parcel tax to a combination of import tax, import VAT and consumption tax on cross-border e-commerce retail goods aims to facilitate sustainable development of the market by creating a fairer environment for all players.

Final stage of VAT roll-out to boost service sector

The last phase of BT-to-VAT reform applies to companies in four sectors: construction, real estate, financial services and consumer services (such as retail). Manufacturers, which already operate under the VAT regime, will now be eligible for tax breaks on research and development. With this measure, the state council aims to encourage manufacturers to modernise.

By understanding the different VAT rates charged for each industry, companies can better position and strategise their business operations under the reform. The following table illustrates the applicable VAT rates for different industries:

Industry

VAT rate as

general VAT payer

Services including transportation, postal,  telecommunication, construction, immovable property leasing, sales of immovable property and transfer of land

11% or 6%

Tangible movable properties leasing services

17%

Other services including financial services, modern services, broadcasting, cinematic and television services

6%

 

Certain cross-border taxable activities within service scope specified by Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation

0%

Apart from these VAT tax rates, there is also an assessable tax rate of 3%/5% for small-scale tax payers.

While VAT may be seen as preferable to BT, since the former is a deductible tax while the latter is cascading, the reform will create certain challenges. For example, how would businesses claim input VAT credit and pass on output VAT to customers? Another challenge, more specific to the financial services industry, would be the IT upgrade needed to adjust to the change.

Meanwhile, given the complexity of tax structuring, collection and administration for the four affected sectors, businesses will incur additional compliance requirements and, consequently, extra costs in the short term. This could include having to review, segment and categorise their operations to determine which areas are subject to VAT and cater to specific VAT requirements.

Despite the burden on vendors in the short term, the BT-to-VAT replacement aims to make life easier for services companies in the long run and encourage factories to upgrade and innovate.

For consumers, the application of VAT will be a valid concern. If products, especially real estate, are in high demand and relatively price inelastic, the tax burden may well be passed on to the end consumer. The government's role in this case is to ensure the smooth transition of the reform, enhancing cash flow efficiency and social welfare.

Overseas e-commerce: regulatory and tax changes are designed to encourage local spending

Regulatory changes in China's cross-border e-commerce policy have also drawn widespread attention. It seems the government has decided to balance the market to ensure its sustainability.

According to the e-commerce tax circular, goods purchased online from overseas merchants will no longer be considered personal postal articles subject to a parcel tax (usually 10%) but rather imported goods subject to import tax, import VAT and consumption tax.

In the meantime, the introduction of an annual limit of RMB 20,000 per individual consumer aims to deter local consumers' reliance on foreign goods.  Alongside these financial changes, a 'positive' list has been released, specifying goods that do not need additional import licences and documents.

As well as creating a heavier tax burden for exporters, these changes may cause complications as they apply differently to different types of product. For example, beauty products (such as eye creams and moisturising gels) are now subject to less tax, while healthcare and childcare products have become more expensive.

For foreign retailers, the tax and regulatory changes make China a less attractive platform than before. While the size of the Chinese market will continue to draw overseas enterprises, if the Chinese consumer is subject to more tax then their purchasing power decreases. The government hopes this will encourage consumers to buy local products, creating a fairer environment and more balanced market.

Agile businesses should prepare for future changes

It is important for managers and decision-makers to keep a keen eye on both central and local government policy. Items not on a 'positive' list are probably under close monitoring by the government and might be banned in the future.

Vendors should be aware of the commercial risks and be prepared to switch business direction if the need arises. They should also know support is available. Alongside government guidance, external service providers are on hand to advise on the new tax policies and streamline business processes, helping their clients manage the transition.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions