Business / Policy Watch

Tax pacts to make going global easier

By Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-04 07:07

Companies can face hefty expenses, and many aren't fully familiar with their rights, says official

The State Administration of Taxation will sign and update more tax treaties and step up the implementation of these agreements to help Chinese companies investing in countries that form part of the "Belt and Road Initiative", an official from the agency told China Daily.

The SAT will also step up Mutual Agreement Procedures, a bilateral consulting mechanism, to help Chinese companies involved in international tax disputes, said Liao Tizhong, director-general of the international taxation department at the SAT.

Tax treaties reduce or avoid double taxation, which involves individuals or companies from one country paying tax in another country for the same income. Since 1983, China has signed 100 such pacts, the latest with Chile in May.

Chinese companies benefit from these treaties by enjoying generally lower withholding tax rates on interest, dividends and royalties, among other benefits stipulated. The treaties not only prevent double taxation, they also offer certainty to taxpayers.

In 2014, the SAT discussed more than 20 MAP cases with its foreign counterparts, and concluded five of them, the disputed tax of which was about 500 million yuan ($80 million).

When the Foreign Ministry conducted a survey of Chinese companies in Africa last year, it found that tax-related issues accounted for 60 percent of the problems these companies encountered. Most of these companies are small ones, without due awareness of seeking treaty protection or adequate knowledge of how a treaty works.

According to Liao, there are a few countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road with which China has not signed tax treaties. In Africa, where Chinese investors are plentiful, only about 10 treaties exist. The figure is less than 10 in Latin America.

Liao said many old treaties need overhaul to keep up with the evolving bilateral economic interactions, and also to accommodate with the fast-changing international tax rules.

For example, a major State-owned enterprise last year rented equipment to its subsidiary in an unidentified treaty country. The country levied tax on the rent the SOE received according to its domestic rates, instead of the withholding tax rate previously agreed by the two countries in the tax treaty.

The SOE filed a MAP request with the SAT, which then consulted with the tax authority in the country. The authorities agreed to apply the treaty rate, but with a condition: that the tax bill first be paid under the domestic rate, with the difference to be refunded.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks