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China: New laws and regulations in 2019

Regulatory change often comes quickly in China – and the year ahead will be no exception. Some major legal changes already came into effect on January 1st, 2019, whilst others are still in the pipeline.

Individual Income Tax Law

The revised Individual Income Tax Law took full effect on January 1st, 2019, alongside numerous regulations published at the very last minute in late December, 2018. The higher monthly standard deduction of RMB 5,000 already took effect on October 1st, 2019, as did the new tax brackets for salaries and wages. From January 1st, 2019, taxpayers can apply for new special deductions in addition, in five categories. For foreign taxpayers especially, the new law will bring significant changes with respect to the definition of tax-residency and by putting an end to favourable tax treatment for foreigners after a transition period of three years.

Tip

For more about the new law and amendments with respect to foreign tax-payers, some of which have serious implications, see: https://ecovis-beijing.com/tax-policy/iit-regulations-extend-5-year-rule/

E-Commerce Law

In 2018 China became the world’s largest e-commerce market, with a combined market revenue of an estimated 765 billion US$. The Chinese government responded to this rapid growth by enacting an e-commerce law, which took effect on January 1, 2019. It covers all major aspects of e-commerce, including delivery and payment methods. The law also is designed to strengthen IP rights and to punish infringements and retailers of fake products more effectively. The law sets out rules for three categories of players in e-commerce: platform operators, operators on platforms and online sellers. All businesses engaging in e-commerce have to register as such. The law further creates a framework for cross-border e-commerce, for better protection of consumer data and of IP rights.

Tip

ECOVIS R&G Consulting Ltd (BJ), Beijing, has made a compilation and analysis of the new e-commerce law available to our readers. See: https://ecovis-beijing.com/legal/chinas-new-e-commerce-law-2/

Foreign Investment Law (Draft)

In December 2018 the draft Foreign Investment Law was published and the public was invited to comment. It promises equal treatment of foreign companies operating in China, though limited by a right to review activities which may affect national security. Once adopted, it will replace three current laws governing foreign investments. The National People’s Congress will already be consulting on the draft in its coming plenary session starting on March 5th, 2018. The timing and speed at which the Chinese government is pushing forward with the law is seen as an indicator of its willingness to avoid any further escalation of the US-China trade war, say Ecovis’ experts.

 

 

Author: Richard Hoffmann, lawyer, ECOVIS R&G Consulting Ltd (BJ), Beijing, China. Email: richard.hoffmann@ecovis-beijing.com     

About Ecovis International

Ecovis is a leading global consulting firm with its origins in Continental Europe. It has over 6,500 people operating in over 70 countries. Its consulting focus and core competencies lie in the areas of tax consultation, accounting, auditing and legal advice. The particular strength of Ecovis is the combination of personal advice at a local level with the general expertise of an international and interdisciplinary network of professionals. Every Ecovis office can rely on qualified specialists in the back offices as well as on the specific industrial or national know-how of all the Ecovis experts worldwide. This diversified expertise provides clients with effective support, especially in the fields of international transactions and investments – from preparation in the client‘s home country to support in the target country. In its consulting work Ecovis concentrates mainly on mid-sized firms. Both nationally and internationally, its one-stop-shop concept ensures all-round support in legal, fiscal, managerial and administrative issues. The name Ecovis, a combination of the terms economy and vision, expresses both its international character and its focus on the future and growth.