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More regions to levy 'virtual property taxes'
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"There is no timetable set for the property tax levy, and there will be no extra burden for tax payers," said Yang Suizhou, Deputy Director of the Local Taxation Department under the State Administration of Taxation, on January 11.

The country is expected to consolidate the current urban land-use tax and the real estate tax into the property tax, according to Yang.

Last year, the State Administration of Taxation picked 10 provinces and cities, including Beijing, Shenzhen, Dalian, Jiangsu and Chongqing, to levy "virtual property taxes", which means no money will actually be collected. Three or five more regions will be selected as pilot areas for virtual operation, said Yang.

"The tax is an effective means to adjust the property market and will serve as a stable income source for the government. But it will take a long time to achieve the goal," said Yang.

The government may begin collecting the property tax as early as this year, Liu He, deputy director of the Leading Work Group of Financial and Economic Works of the CPC Central Committee, said at an annual financial meeting last year.

When answering a question on environment tax, Yang told the China Business News that research was needed before enacting the new policy. A feasibility study report on the taxation will be worked out in 2008.

The environment tax, which was reported as one of the key taxation policies China plans to push forward this year, is going through careful study and appraisal by the Ministry of Finance, the State Administration of Taxation and the State Environmental Protection Administration. Foreign experts were invited to join the research.

Yang also announced that China would tighten land value-added tax (VAT) collection. The SAT had levied 36.6 billion yuan in land VAT in the first 11 months last year, up 80.6 percent from the previous year.

The value-added tax on land was written into a national regulation in 1993, but was not widely collected due to a subsequent recession in the real estate sector. With China's real estate investment surging and house prices rocketing, the tax has been resumed. Yang also said that the authorities would fully enforce a clearance of land VAT in 2008.

A blueprint for the new resource tax reform is now under discussion and will soon be submitted to the State Council for examination and approval. The exact time for the announcement of the new fuel tax has yet to be released, said Yang.

( by Wu Nanlan, January 15, 2008)

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