Applying VAT to financial services in China: Opportunities for China and lessons for the world?

Yan Xu, Rick Krever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Prior to 2012, the Chinese VAT applied primarily to supplies of goods, with supplies of services, including financial services, subject to a turnover tax known as the Business Tax.The value of financial services in respect of a loan was interpreted as the gross interest payable on the loan. As a consequence, a 5 turnover tax was applied to interest payments, with no input tax recovery by business customers in the VAT system. The result was overtaxation of all borrowers and, in particular, business customers facing significant biases and distortions from the compounding tax liability. Since 2012, Chinese authorities have gradually been shifting services subject to the Business Tax into the VAT. Yet to be moved are loans and similar financial services as there is no clear agreement as to how the Business Tax rules on financial services might be integrated into the VAT. Somewhat ironically, depending on how they are migrated into the VAT and the VAT input tax system, these unprincipled and distorting rules might end up providing a model for taxing financial services in a VAT. The result has the potential to be the benchmark for reform of the VAT in the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38 - 49
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Tax Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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