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Report shows problems of income tax collection
Latest Updated by 2006-07-06 09:40:52
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While the rich get richer, authorities are left with the taxing issue of how to get them to pay their dues.

The top 100 taxpayers in South China's booming Guangdong Province turned in individual income taxes of 229 million yuan (US$28 million) in 2005, just 1.1 per cent of the total amount, according to a report by the provincial tax bureau.

All people earning over 1,600 yuan (US$200) per month must pay income tax, with the base rate 5 per cent. People earning over 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) per month pay 45 per cent. The report covered the whole province with the exception of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone.

Rao Songde, a director of the bureau, said that while the government has made efforts to monitor payments by the wealthy, many are still trying to wriggle out of it.

"Those who pay the most individual income tax are by no means the richest people in the province," he said.

Of the top 100 individual income tax payers in 2005, only nine were corporate chairpersons or board members of the thousands of profitable enterprises in the Pearl River Delta.

Yang Weihua, a professor with Sun Yat-sen University's tax and financing research centre, said that it is easy for rich people to avoid paying tax.

"Loopholes in the nation's tax laws have made it easy for high-income people to pay minimal tax," Yang said.

He mentioned exemptions on real estate tax and inheritance as examples.

"Frequent use of cash and the far-from-perfect credit system in China have made it equally easy for high-income people to evade taxation," he said.

Yang added that insufficient awareness of tax payment among big earners is also a reason for non-payment.

Well-off people in the province showed differing attitudes to the issue.

Cheng Haiping, partner of a law firm in Guangzhou, said that it is necessary to pay taxes as required.

"As a law practitioner, I have no excuse for not abiding by tax laws. Taxes are very important for the development of our nation."

However, Cheng complained that the present individual income tax rate is too high, saying it has bitten heavily into his monthly income. He did not disclose the exact figure.

A board member of a Guangzhou real estate company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the rich would be more willing to pay taxes if the government did not abuse public revenues and made greater efforts to improve social welfare.

"Even if I paid my taxes generously, would the government help my kid finish expensive higher education or pay for my medical bills if I went bankrupt one day?"

Fortunately for the provincial coffers, not everyone held this point of view.

According to the taxation bureau's report, two persons paid more than 10 million yuan (US$1.25 million) each in income tax last year.

Editor: Yan

By: Zhan Lisheng Source: China Daily Website
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