The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its fifth session last Friday and adopted the E-Commerce Law, the Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law, and an amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law. All three laws will take effect on January 1, 2019. Due to competing offline commitments, we are able to discuss only two laws in relative detail below.
The Council of Chairmen met on August 17 and decided that the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will meet for its fifth session from August 27 to 31. The session will consider at least seven legislative bills, including the much-anticipated draft Separate Parts of China’s first Civil Code, draft E-Commerce Law, and three tax bills. As usual, below we take a look at the legislative bills on the session’s agenda.
UPDATE (Sept. 8, 2018): This post has been updated based on the 13th NPCSC five-year legislative plan.
China currently collects 18 types of taxes. They will generate an estimated total of 8 trillion RMB in revenue for the Central Government in 2018. But only six of them—providing only about a third of the central tax revenue—are imposed by laws (法律) enacted by the legislature, the NPC or its Standing Committee (NPCSC). The rest are governed only by interim regulations (暂行条例) adopted by the State Council—the Central Government itself. The enormous taxing power the State Council now wields was in fact granted by the NPC in 1984. Now, over three decades later, the NPC is reclaiming that power by gradually elevating the interim regulations into laws, with an eye to complete the process by 2020. In this post, we will explain why the NPC made the power grant in the first place and discuss what it has recently been doing to reassert its control over taxation.
In his 2018 Government Work Report, Premier Li Keqiang vowed to “raise the [individual] income tax threshold and create expense deductions for items like children’s education and treatment for serious diseases.” Fulfillment of this promise primarily falls on the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the State Administration of Taxation (SAT), which managed to draft an amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law and submitted it to the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) in under three months. But the bill did not fare particularly well in the NPCSC. According to reports by Caixin and the Legal Daily, legislators questioned certain main provisions of the draft amendment during group deliberations. Before turning to their opinions, we will first introduce the main content of the draft amendment below.
UPDATE (July 1, 2018): This post has been updated with information from this news release. We will not separately report on the NPCSC’s special session this month unless the resolution contains especially newsworthy content.
The Tobacco Leaf Tax Law (烟叶税法), Vessel Tonnage Tax Law (船舶吨税法), revised Specialized Farmers’ Cooperatives Law (农民专业合作社法), and Decision on the Exercise of Maritime Rights Protection and Law Enforcement Authority by the China Coast Guard (关于中国海警局行使海上维权执法职权的决定; see this post for details) take effect on July 1.
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is currently soliciting public comments on the following bills through July 28, 2018 (see this post for details):
- draft E-Commerce Law (电子商务法);
- draft revision to the People’s Courts Organic Law (人民法院组织法);
- draft revision to the People’s Procuratorates Organic Law (人民检察院组织法);
- draft amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law (个人所得税法).
The NPCSC will convene a special session on July 9–10 to hear a report on inspecting the enforcement of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention and Control Law (大气污染防治法). In conjunction with hearing the report, the NPCSC will conduct a special inquiry (专题询问) (which senior State Council officials are expected to attend to answer questions) and adopt a resolution related to one of the Communist Party’s three ongoing “tough battles” (攻坚战): preventing and controlling pollution.
The NPCSC’s next regular session will take place in late August.
UPDATE (Jun. 28, 2018): The deadline has been updated per newest information on the NPC’s website.
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is now soliciting public comments on the following four draft laws through July 28, 2018:
- draft amendment to Individual Income Tax Law 个人所得税法修正案草案 (Summary)
- second draft revision to People’s Courts Organic Law 人民法院组织法修订草案二次审议稿 (English)
- second draft revision to People’s Procuratorates Organic Law 人民检察院组织法修订草案二次审议稿 (English)
- third draft of E-Commerce Law 电子商务法草案三次审议稿 (English)
All linked files are PDF documents in Chinese. English translations are either completed or underway at the links provided above. The accompanying explanations of these drafts can be read here (PDF).
To submit comments online, please refer to these instructions. The “Occupations” dropdown lists for draft revisions to the People’s Courts Organic Law and the People’s Procuratorates Organic Law include these items, from top to bottom: court staff (法院工作人员), procuratorate staff (检察院工作人员), staff of other state institutions (其他国家机关工作人员), lawyers (律师), and other personnel (其他人员).
Comments can also be mailed to the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission (全国人大常委会法制工作委员会) at the following address:
Chinese: 北京市西城区前门西大街1号 邮编：100805
English: No. 1 West Qianmen Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing 100805
Please clearly write “[BILL NAME IN CHINESE]征求意见” on the envelope.
The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its third bimonthly session on Friday (June 22) without adopting any legislative bills, including the draft E-Commerce Law that it had already reviewed three times (this session included). Several new provisions in the latest draft have sparked heated discussion during the session and could potentially further delay passage of the law. The session did adopt a decision granting law enforcement powers to the now-militarized China Coast Guard, the details of which will be discussed below.