China sets deadline for VAT reform

Beijing, March 7 (IANS) Chinese finance minister said on Monday that business tax in all industries will be replaced by value-added tax (VAT) before May, a concrete step in deepening fiscal and taxation reform.

“The progress in the VAT reform last year was slower than having planned, efforts would be made to meet the May 1 deadline this year,” Lou Jiwei, minister of finance, said at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress annual session.

Starting May 1, the replacement of business tax with VAT will be extended to construction, real estate, finance and consumer services, to ensure that the tax burdens on all industries are reduced, Premier Li Keqiang said in a government work report to the national legislature.

Business tax refers to a levy on the gross revenue of a business while VAT refers to a tax levied on the difference between a commodity’s price before taxes and its cost of production.

A pilot scheme on business tax-to-VAT was tested in 2012.

From 2012 to the first half of 2015, the measure has resulted in tax savings of over $75 billion, accounting for 0.2 percent of GDP in the period, according to a report of China International Capital Corp. Ltd., a joint venture investment bank.

Lou also said his ministry is working with relevant agencies on property taxation and proposals on individual income tax reform.

However, Lou advised people not to hold their expectation too high as the reform will be in “a complicated process”.

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