Taxation in the People's Republic of China

By Jinyan Li | Go to book overview

6
Agriculture Tax

Agriculture taxes have existed in China, in one form or another, for at least four thousand years, which is of no surprise considering China has always been mainly an agricultural country. The classification of these taxes is problematic. At some times--for instance, with the jingtian ("nine-square") system--the tax resembled the medieval European tithe and could be considered to be a tax on production or on income. At other times, the assessment was based upon the value or area of the land itself, more closely approximating a property, or annual wealth tax. The system in force since 1950 is based upon the estimated yield of the average harvest for the land in question, and might therefore be described as a hybrid property and income tax.

Questions of classification apart, the agriculture tax is of major importance not only on account of its antiquity but also because it affects some 80 percent of the population of the People's Republic. In 1987, the agricultural sector supplied 33.9 percent the total national income and employed 60 percent of the labor force; 1 yet, if one ignores for the moment the concealed tax, it now contributes less than 9 percent of total tax revenues. 2 Its budgetary importance has gradually diminished over the past three decades as the degree of industrialization has increased; even in the predominantly agricultural areas, it has ceased to be a major source of tax revenue. 3 That does not mean that the contribution by peasants to the national revenue has decreased, since the state also secures its share of agricultural income through a "concealed tax"--the compulsory procurement of grains at very low prices. The agriculture tax has been an important tool for the state to secure grain supply and to feed one-quarter of the world's population, because the tax is mainly collected in kind rather than in cash.


HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE AGRICULTURE TAX

The existing agriculture tax system has remained virtually unchanged for the past forty years, despite of changes to the agricultural sector. The developments of the agriculture tax system can be traced through four historical periods: (1) the pre-1949 period, in which the system was conceived in the Communist-occupied

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Taxation in the People's Republic of China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Evolution of China's Tax System 1
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Taxation of Goods and Services 31
  • Notes 45
  • 3 - Income Taxes on Individuals 51
  • Notes 63
  • 4 - Income Taxes on Domestic Enterprises 69
  • Notes 87
  • 5 - Income Taxes on Foreign Investment 99
  • Notes 116
  • 6 - Agriculture Tax 125
  • Notes 133
  • 7 - Local Taxes 137
  • Notes 146
  • 8 - Evaluation of the Current Tax System and Prospects for Future Reform 151
  • Notes 173
  • Selected Bibliography 177
  • Index 191
  • About the Author 195
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