Property tax cools high-end housing market
Updated: 2012-01-30 10:01
CHONGQING - On 28 January last year, southwestern Chongqing municipality launched a long-await trial property tax to cool the red-hot housing market and curb the skyrocketing housing prices. One year after the implementation of the trial tax, the effect is obvious.
Chongqing and Shanghai are the first two cities in China to implement the trial tax .
"Fewer people have come to our sales office since the second half of last year, and everyone has asked if the houses we sell will be taxed or not," said a property consultant, surnamed Lin, whose office is located in Chongqing's Longtousi Park around which high-end apartment blocks are clustered.
"The gloomy housing market is getting even worse, and we cannot sell 10 houses a month. If the situation deteriorates further, I'm afraid that my colleagues and I will lose our jobs," said Lin.
According to research conducted by Chongqing Municipal Land Resources and Housing Administrative Bureau, the number of people who visited sales offices in high-end housing areas has recently dropped 30 percent to 50 percent, and considerable number of homebuyers changed their minds to buy smaller-sized or more modestly-styled homes.
Statistics show that from January 28 to November 30, the sale of high-end housing in Chongqing plunged to 700,000 square meters, 4.1 percent lower than that of 2010.
"The implementation of the tax restricted the development of the high-level housing market, and then curbed the prices of this kind of housing," said Wen Xing, an official of Chongqing Municipal Land Resources and Housing Administrative Bureau.
The property tax also rationalized the structure of the commercial housing, cutting the rate of large-sized houses and increasing mid- and small-sized houses supplies, thus more ordinary people can now afford a home, Wen said.
Chongqing began to tax all villas as well as new apartments priced at least two times the average price of all newly-built homes last year.
The annual tax rates are 0.5 percent of the transaction prices for villas and apartments priced less than three times the average price, 1 percent for those priced three to four times the average and 1.2 percent for those priced more than four times the average.
For a family, the first 180 square meters for villas and first 100 square meters for high-end apartments are exempted from tax, according to the regulation.
For non-permanent residents who don't work or run companies in Chongqing, their second homes will be taxed at 0.5 percent regardless of the prices.
A taxpayer surnamed Luo has a villa in Jiulongpo district, covering 250 square meters. Luo said he must pay 2,000 yuan ($315) in tax for the excessive 70 square meters of his villa each year.
"I hope the housing tax won't be too high, as my family won't be able to bear the burden," said Luo.
The owners of 8,563 high-end houses paid more than 90 million yuan ($14.2 million) in taxes 10 months after the implementation of the trial tax, said He Zhiming, vice president of Chongqing Finance Bureau.
All the property tax revenue will be used for the construction and maintenance of public rental housing in Chongqing, He said.
The levy is designed to help regulate income distribution and promote social equality, and guide reasonable housing consumption for land saving and intensive use, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance, the State Administration of Taxation and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
Chongqing government built 110,000 units of public rental houses in 2011, accommodating more than 300,000 urban low-income earners, including migrant workers and graduates who had failed to find a job.
Regulations stipulate that a tenant can buy his rented apartment after five years of renting at the price based on the apartment's construction cost -- much lower than the prices of commercial housing.