Business / Economy

China moves toward taxation on pollutants

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-29 17:38

BEIJING - The central government rendered a draft environment tax law to the top legislature for the first reading on Monday, a step closer to a national taxation on various pollutants from business activities.

The draft law proposed rates ranging from 350 yuan (about $52) to 11,200 yuan per month on various industrial noises according to an excessive decibel level. It also set rates of 1.2 yuan on a stipulated quantity of air pollutants, 1.4 yuan on a stipulated quantity of water pollutants and a range of five to 1,000 yuan for each tonne of different kinds of solid waste.

For instance, polluters will be levied 1.2 yuan for emission of 0.95 kilogram of sulfur dioxide and 1.4 yuan for letting out 100 grams of petroleum in the water.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has not been included in the levying list, said Finance Minister Lou Jiwei while explaining the draft.

The rates may also be halved if tax payers' emissions are below half the national standard.

Provincial governments may "appropriately" raise rates taking local economy and pollution conditions into account, according to the draft law.

Instead of taxing polluters, China currently collects a "pollutant discharge fee," which features rates that are almost equal or lower than the standard tax rates in the draft law.

China established the "pollutant discharge fee" system in 1979. In 2015, it collected 17.3 billion yuan from 280,000 enterprises and other business operators.

The law is expected to solve the current system's loopholes such as inadequate implementation and administrative interference, which will help with China's ongoing economic restructuring, according to the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress.

In order to support agricultural development, the tax will exclude pollutants from agriculture (except those from large-scale animal husbandry) and mobile pollution sources including motor vehicles, ships and aircraft as taxes have been covered in their prices.

Normal emissions by urban sewage and refuse treatment plants will also be exempted.

Punishment has not been specified for tax evasion or fraud. The draft made it clear that the taxation will not offset criminal penalties for serious pollution crimes.

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