China: Tax Residency In China: Six-Year Rule Clarified

Last Updated: 23 April 2019
Article by Helen Kong

China recently clarified how it will implement the "six-year rule" to determine foreign workers' tax residency in China, following the introduction of a new Individual Income Tax (IIT) Law last year.

On March 16, 2019, China's Ministry of Finance and State Taxation Administration published the Announcement on the Criteria for Determining the Residence Time of Individuals without Domicile in China (see here for the official announcement), which explains how the tax residency of foreigners in China will be calculated.

The announcement clarifies, among other things, when tax authorities will begin counting days spent in China for the purposes of determining the tax residency status of foreign workers. In other words, the announcement details how the so-called "six-year rule" will be enforced.

According to the six-year rule rule, foreigners who are residents of mainland China for six consecutive years will be subject to taxation on their worldwide income. Before the announcement, however, some of the details of the rule – which was updated with the passing of the new IIT Law – remained unclear.

Foreign taxpayers should take note of the updated rules as they plan their tax obligations in China and abroad.

Tax residency rules relaxed, new details released

Before the new six-year rule was announced, many observers thought that tax authorities would make taxation of foreigners' overseas income stricter. Ultimately, however, the authorities went the other direction and mostly widened preferential policies for foreign taxpayers.

Compared to the previous " five-year rule", the six-year rule provides a looser tax policy for foreigners (including residents of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) who work in China but also earn overseas income. The relaxed stance on taxation of foreigners' overseas income is part of a policy to attract foreign investment and encourage high-level foreign talent to work in China.

The key points of the six-year rule are:

  • Under the old policy, if a foreigner stayed in China for five consecutive years, his or her worldwide income would be taxed in China. Now, the new IIT Law extends the five years to six, allowing foreign workers in China more time to avoid paying taxes on income sourced overseas.
  • In relation to the six-year rule, if there is a single departure outside of mainland China of more than 30 consecutive days at any point during the six years, the clock to count tax residency will be reset.
  • The management of tax filing will be streamlined so that taxpayers no longer need to get pre-approval from local tax authorities to enjoy tax benefits. Now, taxpayers can enjoy tax benefits at the point of filing.

In addition to laying out the key features of the six-year rule, the announcement describes how days and years spent in China are defined.

  • Since the start of 2019, a foreigner is deemed to have spent a year in China if he or she stays in the country for at least 183 days within a given calendar year.
  • Those who stay in China for less than 24 hours within a single day will not be counted as having a day of residence.
  • The number of years of residence to calculate the six-year rule will be determined beginning from January 1, 2019. The number of years spent in China before 2019 will not be included in the calculation.

How to determine tax residency status in China

As stated above, the six-year rule contains a number of exemptions and conditions to calculate tax residency status. Here, we present some examples to demonstrate how a foreigner's tax residency status would be determined under different situations.

How to count tax residency status for one year

Mr. Li is a Hong Kong resident who works in Shenzhen city. He goes to Shenzhen to work every Monday morning and returns to Hong Kong every Friday evening. On Mondays and Fridays, he stays less than 24 hours in mainland China, so the two days are not counted as being full days spent in China for tax purposes.

In addition, Saturdays and Sundays are not counted either, because Mr. Li spends them in Hong Kong. That means that although Mr. Li works in mainland China during the weekdays, for tax purposes he is only counted as being in mainland China for three days.

If we count 52 weeks in a year, Mr. Li will be staying in mainland China for 156 days – less than the 183 days needed to be considered a tax resident. As a result, all of Mr. Li's income from overseas (including Hong Kong) will be tax exempt in mainland China.

How to count a tax residency reset

Mr. Li moved to Shenzhen on January 1, 2013 and still works there today, in March 2019. If we count the times Mr. Li stayed in Shenzhen for over 183 days in a year, he has exceeded six years in mainland China. Despite this, because all years before 2019 were cleared from the count with the passing of the new IIT Law, the counting of years spent in China only started from January 1, 2019.

As a result, even though Mr. Li has been living in China since 2013, he will only be taxed on his worldwide income starting from 2025. However, to avoid this exposure to taxation on worldwide income in 2025, Mr. Li decided to spend January and February 2024 in Hong Kong.

By doing so, Mr. Li will have left mainland China for over 30 consecutive days, thereby resetting the clock. Consequently, Mr. Li will not have to pay taxes on his worldwide income.

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
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please 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