At the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress (NPC) held on 5 March 2016, Premier Li Keqiang announced that effective from 1 May 2016, Value Added Tax (“VAT”) will replace the current Business Tax (“BT”) in all sectors, including real estate & construction, financial services & insurance, lifestyle and other services (including hospitality, food & beverage, healthcare and entertainment).
We forecast the expected VAT rates below:
|Sector||Expected VAT Rate||Current BT Rate|
|Financial Services & Insurance||6%||5%|
|Lifestyle & Other Services||6%||Generally 5%, though certain entertainment services are subject to rates ranging from 3–20%|
On 4 February 2016, the State Administration of Taxation (SAT) released the SAT Announcement  No.8 that would take effect from 1 April 2016 for general VAT taxpayers engaged in the veterinary drugs trading business. The announcement states a Simple Tax Filing Method may be adopted for calculating and paying VAT based on the sales volume of the veterinary biological products and the tax rate is 3%.
This presents veterinary drugs trading enterprises with the option to choose a more cost-efficient tax filing method. However, taxpayers should consider the Simple Tax Filing Method option carefully as it cannot be changed within 36 months of its adoption. Proper tax planning is essential to figure out whether the Simple Tax Filing Method is more beneficial for the business.
On 14 February 2016, China’s State Council announced its plan to conduct pilot programmes for the innovative development of services in 10 cities and 5 new zones under direct control of the central government (“state-level zones”) over the next 2 years. The 10 cities are Tianjin, Shanghai, Hainan, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Suzhou and Weihai, while the 5 new state-level zones are Harbin, Jiangbei (in Nanjing), Liangjiang (in Chongqing), Gui’an (in Guizhou) and Xixian (in Shaanxi).
One of the programmes involves the extension of preferential tax policies to advanced technological service enterprises (ATSEs) within the pilot areas. The scope of enterprises entitled to the 15% Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate (reduced from the standard 25% rate) will be expanded beyond service outsourcing enterprises to include other high-tech and high value added service sectors as well. These enterprises are also allowed to use the 8% (of total employee expenses) deduction threshold for employee education expenses (under the CIT law, deductions for these expenses are generally limited to 2.5% of total employee expenses).
Apart from preferential tax policies, the government also offers other financial and administrative support such as financial subsidies for enterprises providing research and development (R&D), energy-saving, environmental protection and environmental services, which are urgently needed by China. Hence, service or trade enterprises that qualify for such government support should take advantage of it from financial and cost-efficiency perspectives.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (“SAPPRFT”) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”) jointly announced Provisions for the Administration of Online Publishing Services (the “Provisions”), which have taken effect since 10 March 2016.
The Provisions state that Sino-foreign equity joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned enterprises are prohibited from engaging in online publishing services, and prior approval from SAPPRFT is required for any relevant cooperative projects in China that involve such enterprises.
Shanghai’s tax filing system has been comprehensively upgraded since February this year. The new system requires a more detailed disclosure of foreign expatriates’ income and allowance deduction, which must be recorded in the tax system when the company does the monthly individual income tax filing.
The “Individual Income Tax Law of the People’s Republic of China” and the “Notice of the Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation Concerning the Implementation of Individual Income Tax Policies” (Cai Shui Zi (1997) No. 20) define the scope of deductible allowances for foreign expatriates’ PRC individual income tax purpose. They include allowances for housing, meals and laundry, relocation, home leave airfare, Chinese language training and children’s education. For such allowances to be deductible, valid invoices and relevant supporting documents must be submitted to the tax authorities.
With the new system in place, the allowance details will be more readily available to the tax authorities, increasing the chances of challenges to applications for allowance deduction during tax filing. In light of this, foreign expatriates working in China are advised to take the following actions:
- For expatriates already working in China: re-assess your allowance position and make necessary adjustments if the position appears aggressive
- For expatriates about to start work in China: plan the compensation package so that a reasonable allowance arrangement can be made from your first day of work there
Serving growing businesses since 1985, RSM in Singapore is the largest accounting, business advisory and solutions group outside the Big 4, with a total staff strength of over 950 in Singapore and 320 in China.
Our China Practice is dedicated to helping you venture into China smoothly and supporting you in navigating its complex regulatory and business environment.
Represented in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hangzhou by our wholly-owned subsidiary, SBA Stone Forest, we are a one-stop shop well positioned to support your expansion into China and subsequent operations there.
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Adrian Tan, Partner and Industry Leader, China Practice
T +65 6594 7876
Donald Ho, Partner
T +65 6705 7148
Tan Lee Lee (Ms), Director
T +86 21 6186 7602
Yeo Lee Soon, Director
T +86 10 8591 1900