Journal : Phoenix Weekly Date : Author : Sun Yang Page No. : NA
URL : NA

按家庭征个税:“十三五”内出台正当其时

 

一度以“条件不具备、时机不成熟”为由,停留在讨论阶段多年的按家庭征收个税改革,在即将到来的 “十三五”期间,将可能作为缩小贫富差距的重要改革政策之一,渐进式推行。

China’s reform plan of personal income tax – to levy taxation by family (rather than by individual) as unit – finally sees its promise to be put into practice. In past few years, the reform plan was always stuck in the phase of “to be negotiated” in pretexts that “the conditions are not ready”, or “the proper time is yet to come”. With the thirteenth “five-year plan” at the threshold, the reform plan is likely to be implemented with gradual paces – a crucial part of China’s reform policies to bring close the gap between the rich and the poor.

中共十八届五中全会审议通过的《中共中央关于制定国民经济和社会发展第十三个五年规划的建议》(以下简称“十三五规划建议”),首次提及“共享发展”理念,缩小收入差距则被列为坚持共享发展,着力增进人民福祉的重点民生政策,实现的具体措施包括,加快建立综合和分类相结合的个人所得税制。

“Proposals from CPC Central Committee for the thirteenth ‘five-year plan’ of national economy and social development” (“Proposals” for short hereafter), which was passed in the fifth plenary session of CPC’s 18th national congress, put forward the notion of “shared development”. Among all policies concerning people’s livelihood, it is a key solution to bring close the income gap, so as to stick with shared development and boost the welfare of the general public. And the concrete measures include a new taxation system of personal income that takes into consideration different categories of income groups.

即将到来的“十三五”是2020年全面建成小康社会收官的五年,也是中国进入经济“新常态”后的第一个五年,缩小贫富差距和改善民生已经成为改革重要突破点。据此,有专家认为,按家庭征税等个税改革或将迎来最佳出台时机,有望通过分步走的方式逐渐实现。

The thirteenth “five-year plan”, which is coming soon, is seen as the most important five-year span before a well-off society is fully realized in 2020, and the first five-year span after Chinese economy enters the stage of “New Normal”. Therefore, the central government sees it as a breakthrough point of reform to bring close the gap between the rich and the poor, and to improve the welfare of the general public. In light of that, many experts think that it’s the right time to push forward reform plans of personal income tax, including the plan to levy taxation by family (rather than by individual) as unit. The plan might be implemented step by step, and is expected to mature in the long run.

“按照时间表规划,个税改革在‘十三五’期间一定会推出。”全国政协委员、原财政部财政科学研究所所长贾康告诉《凤凰周刊》,因为根据国家总体目标,2020年之前税制改革要取得决定性的进展。

“According to the agenda of reform, the taxation system of personal income is sure to change in the thirteenth ‘five-year plan’.” Thus commented Jia Kang, member of the national committee of CCPPC, and former director of the research institute of financial science affiliated to the Ministry of Finance. In a recent interview with Phoenix Weekly, Jia Kang predicts that China’s taxation system is bound to achieve decisive progress before 2020, according to the overall development target of the country as a whole.

不过,贾康也表示,在税改推行之前,可能要先经历修法程序,以实现税收法定和依法纳税。

In spite of the prediction, Jia Kang confesses that legislative procedure is required before the reform plans can be realized. Only by doing that can they abide by the consensus of “levying taxation by law” and “paying taxation by law”.

改革方向已确立十九载 The direction of reform was fixed 19 years ago

“十三五规划”建议中提及的“综合和分类相结合的个人所得税制”并非一个新的改革方向,这一提法已跨越了四个五年规(计)划,如今即将被写入第五个五年规划。

Actually, “a new taxation system of personal income that takes into consideration different categories of income groups” as proposed in the thirteenth “five- year plan” is nothing new at all. The proposal was written in last four “five-year plans”, and will be written into the plan for fifth consecutive times.

1996年3月17日第八届全国人大第四次会议批准的《国民经济和社会发展“九五”计划和2010年远景目标纲要》中,就勾勒出一幅宏观蓝图:建立覆盖全部个人收入的分类和综合相结合的个人所得税制。2003年,十六届三中全会通过的《完善社会主义市场经济体制若干问题的决定》中就已经提出要改进个人所得税,实行综合和分类相结合的个人所得税制。2006年,这个改革方向又被写入了“十一五规划”。在2011年开始实施的“十二五规划”中,又重新对个税改革路线图进行描绘和勾勒——逐步建立健全综合与分类相结合的个人所得税制度,完善个人所得税征管机制。

“9th ‘five-year plan’ of national economy and social development, and an outline of the long-term development by 2010”, approved in the fourth session of the eighth National People’s Congress on March 17th, 1996, had already conceived a grand landscape for China’s future: to build “a new taxation system of personal income that takes into consideration different categories of income groups” that covers as many people as possible. In 2003, “The decision of several issues concerning the consummation of socialist market economy”, passed in the third session of CPC’s 16th National Congress, again notes the necessity of a new taxation system of personal income, and the wording is almost the same – “to optimize our current taxation system, and to take into consideration different categories of income groups”. In 2006, the reform plan was again written in the draft of 11th “five-year plan”. 12th “five-year plan”, which was initiated in 2011, drew an outline and details of reform in personal income tax – to build and finalize a new taxation system of personal income that takes into consideration different categories of income groups step by step, and to ameliorate the regulations of levying personal income tax.

虽然对个税综合和分类计征的改革方向已确立19年,但大陆实行的仍是分类所得制。综合和分类个人所得税制长期处于研究层面,至今未获得任何实质性进展。

Although the direction of reform in personal income tax was fixed 19 years ago, the situation remained virtually unchanged in the mainland of China. The above-mentioned new taxation system is constantly stuck in the phase of “to be studied”, and no concrete progress has been achieved up till now.

按家庭征个税作为综合所得税制一个可行方案,早期也只是专家学者在纸上谈兵,直到2011年才被更多大众关注。这一年,大陆将个税起征点由2000元提高至3500元,虽然官方表示这已是充分听取民调意见的结果,但仍然被很多人认为是妥协之策。

The new taxation system, which defines “personal income” as that of family (rather than an individual), seems to be a feasible plan. On the initial stage, the experts proposing the idea were seen as “armchair strategists”, and they failed to catch the eyes of the general public until 2011. In 2011, the threshold of personal income tax was elevated from 2000 Yuan to 3500 Yuan. Although the officials claimed that changes were made in accordance with the “popular will” they heard and accepted, many still regarded that as a measure of compromise.

一部分专家和民众认为,简单提高起征点仍然难以解决税负不公问题,也不能缩小贫富差距,这种“一刀切”式的粗线条征税方式早已不适应现在的经济发展,应该综合考虑纳税人的家庭情况、赡养负担等。由此,以家庭为单位征收个人所得税的探讨越来越多,近年全国两会上,这一议题都会被代表委员提出。刚刚公布的“十三五规划”建议中的相关表述,再次引发期盼。

Some experts and ordinary citizens didn’t think high of the changes, as they thought the unfairness of taxation could not be solved simply by elevating the threshold, nor could the gap between the rich and the poor be brought close. In a word, the rough-and-ready measure of “lump-sum tax” was not fitting well with the current economic development. More factors should be taken into consideration, like the family status and dependency burden of the taxpayers. In light of that, more discussions emerged to push forward a new taxation system of personal income with family, rather than individual as a unit. Representatives attending the plenary sessions of NPC and CPPCC would frequently raise proposals concerned with the issue, and the recently-released draft of thirteenth “five-year plan” has clear expressions of the possibilities of changes. The expectations of the general public are now raised again.

有观察人士认为,进入经济新常态的中国,未来几年可能将面临更为严峻的就业压力,如果收入差距不断加大的情况不能得到有效遏制,将令社会稳定增加风险。按家庭征税由于充分考虑到每一位纳税人的具体情况,不仅容易让“税负痛苦指数”一直居高不下的国人产生更为直观的减税减负感觉,还有利于缩小贫富差距。因此,很有可能作为一项重点民生政策被推出。

Observers hold the view that employment pressure might be huge in next few years, since Chinese economy has already entered the stage of “New Normal”. Social stability would be posed in serious threat if the government fails to bring close the ever-widening income gap between the rich and the poor. The new taxation system of personal income defines family as a unit, taking into consideration the practical situation of every single taxpayer. Thanks to the change, many ordinary citizens burdened by “Tax Misery Index” would feel relieved by paying less, and the gap between the rich and the poor is expected to become close. Therefore, the change is likely to arrive as a new policy of people’s livelihood.

政府保税或是受阻原因  Obstruction from governmental protection

实际上,即使是国家税务部门、财政部门的相关人士,也曾在不同场合公开表示,在个人所得税上采用“夫妻联合申报”或“家庭申报”的征税方式,更加公平、合理。不过,每每提及具体改革方案何时落地,态度就转为回避。

As a matter of fact, the officials from national or provincial departments of taxation and finance also called for changes on different public occasions. In their opinions, it seems fair and proper to levy taxation by couple or by family, rather than by individual. However, their tones would become ambiguous if you continue to ask when the reform plans would land as fact.

综合来看,税务部门认为按家庭征税尚不具备条件的原因包括:大陆家庭财富不透明,难以全面统计收入;按家庭征税成本过高、税务部门尚不具备相关人力物力;以及全民依法纳税、自觉纳税意识较弱等。

The reasons for their reluctance might be multi-folded. The departments of taxation think that the conditions are premature, and list a bunch of reasons: the financial status of families in mainland of China lacks transparency, and comprehensive stats are not easy to made; the costs of levying income tax by family are overwhelmingly high, and the departments concerned would run short of labor and material sources; many ordinary citizens lack the legal awareness of pay tax spontaneously, etc.

在一些税务部门人士看来,一旦实行按家庭征税,上述问题的存在将造成税收监管的巨大漏洞,导致大量税收流失,产生新的不公平问题。

For officials who work in the departments concerned, they might apprehend that the questions mentioned above would lead to serious flaws in tax regulations, if the government decides to levy income tax by family. The flaws would cause large-scale leaks of taxes, and even more unfairness is right in front of us.

但专业人士认为,这些已使用了多年的借口,在今天不应该再成为阻碍改革出台的真正问题。

On the other hand, many experts insist that these “pretexts” have been used for years, and nowadays, they should no longer hinder the reform plans from being implemented.

在契约社会中,作为纳税人的公众,没有义务为税务部门征管能力弱负责,而税收征管者为了提高服务水平,有必要主动提高征管能力。虽然实行家庭征税后,会对税务部门的人员素质提出更高要求,初期信息征集成本也相应提升,但是长远来看,税务工作者素养的提升将有利于今后的税收征管,而信息平台一旦建立起来,会为今后一系列政策的推出和调整提供便利。

In any contractual society, taxpayers bear no responsibilities for the weakness of governmental departments in the abilities of levying taxes. As a matter of fact, these departments are obligated to improve the services they provide, and enhance their abilities to levy taxes. If the reform plan of levying income tax by family does come true, the work would be more demanding for the civil servants of the departments concerned, and the costs of collecting information at the initial stage would rise accordingly. But in the long run, the qualities of these civil servants would rise sharply, and it is conducive for the process of levying taxes in the future. Once the platform of taxpayers’ information is finalized, a series of policies and adaptions would emerge more conveniently.

至于对大陆家庭财产不透明影响税源的担忧,更不应该成为按家庭征税的阻碍。因为收入不透明与个税改革完全是两个问题,即使是在现行个税征收制度下,收入不透明也一样存在。众所周知,很多人,特别是部分高收入群体有大量灰色收入游离于税收体系之外。

The fact does exist that the financial status of families in mainland of China lacks transparency, but it should not pose as a major obstruction of the reform plan. They are actually two parallel issues – the problem of non-transparency exists now under the current taxation system of personal income. In China, it is a common knowledge that a large group of Chinese citizens (especially those with higher income) own large amount of so-called “grey income”, which is not regulated by current taxation system.

一位接近财税体系的人士分析称:按家庭征税不是可不可行,而是愿不愿行,税务部门一直缺少动力的真正原因,可能来自政府的保税目标。

A source close to the central system of finance and taxation tells reporters of Phoenix Weekly: It is “not infeasible” to levy income tax by family, but the departments concerned usually lack motivation – it is governmental protection to blame.

根据官方统计数据显示,个税起征点提高至3500元之后,政府相关收入立刻出现了较大降幅,半年时间内,就同比下降8.0%。有地方财政部门认为,如果实行按家庭征税,一些家庭负担较重的人将进一步减少纳税额,可能会进一步缩减税源。在经济增长放缓的今天,这对各级税务部门来说,都是巨大压力。

The official stats reveal an awkward fact: after the threshold of personal income tax was elevated to 3500 Yuan, related governmental revenue dropped sharply (around 8.0% in 6 months, on a year-on-year basis). Officials from local departments of finance think that their sources of revenue might be cut severely, as families with heavier burden and lower income could pay less if the reform plan becomes a fact. That means huge pressure for local, provincial and central departments of taxation, considering the lowering speed of economic growth.

厘清“家庭”概念是前提  Key lies in a clear definition of “family”

虽然按家庭计征个税已渐成社会共识,但对于官方迟迟未有实质作为,民间似乎早有心理准备。

Although the reform plan of levying income tax by family has won the heart of general public, most ordinary citizens are mentally prepared for the indecision and inaction of the government.

在2015年初陆媒曾进行的一项投票调查显示,大部分公众对近期实行按家庭征税的可能性持不乐观态度。人们普遍的担忧包括:认为这项改革会影响既得利益者,税务部门没有积极性推行;认为难以凭借一项变革改变中国税负有欠公平的整体状况;甚至有人担心由此带来的假结婚、假收养、假赠予增多等社会问题。

Mainland Chinese media conducted a public opinion poll in early 2015, and the result revealed that most people are pessimistic about the possibility of the reform plan of income tax in foreseeable future. Their apprehensions are multi-folded: the reform plan would harm the vested interests of the privileged, and the governments concerned become reluctant to push forward the process; the reform in a single category cannot change the unfairness embedded in China’s overall taxation system; some even feared that the changes might cause a series of social issues like pseudo-marriage, pseudo-adoption, pseudo-donation, etc.

而在一些专家眼中,税收部门的技术问题和民众的担忧均不是真正问题所在,实行按家庭征税前最应该解决的,其实是厘清“家庭”的概念。

In the eyes of some experts, most Chinese citizens are not worrying about the “technical problem” of the departments concerned. The task of ultimate importance before the government can levy income tax by family is – to give a clear definition of “family”.

与西方发达国家普遍以一代或两代人为一个基本家庭单位不同,中国传统上保存了很多多代同堂的大家庭,数亿农民特别是老年农民缺少养老保障,最基本的家庭单位是按照婚姻关系确定还是以户口本为准标准不一。

Unlike the “nuclear family” (which usually covers one generation, or two at most) in most developed countries in the West, “family” in a traditional Chinese sense is huge with several generations under one roof. There are now hundreds of millions of peasants in China, and a large part of them (especially those senior citizens) are not covered by social insurance and welfare. Should we define a “family” by marriage status or the residence booklet? The opinions are diverged.

另外,随着城镇化的发展,至2014年底,大陆流动人口已超过2.45亿,而户籍制度的限制又令“留守儿童”、“空巢老人”、“夫妻分离”等跨时空的家庭结构大量存在,想要准确地统计家庭情况,建立全国联网确实有一定难度。

With the rapid progress of urbanization, the “mobile population” in the mainland of China exceeded 245 million by the end of 2014. The rigid regulations of China’s household registration system causes many unthinkable, and even deformed family structure like “left-behind children” (whose parents leave rural area to make livings in the city), “empty-nest elderly” (whose offspring is not with them for the similar reason) and “separation of young married couples”. Therefore, it becomes extremely difficult to build a nationwide information network that covers every member of every family.

世界上多数实行按家庭征个税的国家和地区均采取以婚姻关系确定家庭成员数量的方式计算税务。

In most countries and regions that levy income tax by family, the members of a “family” are counted by marriage lies.

在美国,为了平衡同样存在的家庭分离、老人赡养等问题,税务部门将纳税方式选择权交给纳税人,公众既可以选择个人报税,也可以选择夫妻合报。至于税务抵扣方面,除了根据每年的通货膨胀作出相应减免外,还有家庭生活费用支出、退休及医疗储蓄个人缴付部分、离婚或分居赡养费、高教费用、医疗费用个人负担部分、州和市个人所得税、财产税、慈善捐助等,以及抚养孩子的托儿费、保险不赔付的家庭财产意外损失、个人职业发展费用等多种家庭必要支出可计入减免范围。

In US, similar social problems also exist: married couples are separated, and senior citizens are not properly taken care of, etc. Therefore, the departments concerned allow citizens to choose their own methods of paying income tax – by individual or by family (which means a married couple). Talking about tax deductibility, tax abatement is applicable according to inflation rate of every year, and also taken into considerations are living expenses, personal payment of retirement pension and medical insurance, alimony after divorce or separation, tuition for higher education, personal payment of medical expenses, income tax of the state and city level, property tax and philanthropic donations, etc. Also applicable to tax deductibility are nursery fees for raising kids, accidental damages not covered by insurance, expenses for career development, and other necessary expenses of a family.

不过,上海金融与法律研究院研究员刘远举认为:相对西方,东方的家庭结构较大,从代际间、群体间的公平、道义的角度而言,中国还有着自己的特殊国情。首先,现在需要赡养的人群当年都是在“个人低收入、国家高积累”的经济运行模式中工作的,这就造成了他们个人养老积累的不足。

Liu Yuanju, research fellow from SIFL (Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law) has his explanation of the fact. He says that the size of a family is much larger in the East that in the West, and the situation is even more complicated in China, as you can never ignore the fairness and justice between different generations and groups. First of all, most senior citizens who need to be attended used to work in the “planned economy” mode of “low personal income and high national accumulation”, which means the pensions they receive now are inadequate.

此外,随着城市化进程,农村人到城市里工作,而他们的父母不能独立支撑颐养天年,这就导致了许多处于工作年龄段的家庭必然、必须承担赡养农村父母的责任。所以,合理划定中国家庭范围,把需要赡养的老人纳入家庭范围,不但是现实的必须,也是对历史负责。

Besides, with the rapid growths of urbanization, more peasants choose to make livings in the city, and their parents cannot imagine living an easy life in old age all by themselves. Therefore, many couples of peasants who work in the city are required by law to support their aged parents in the rural area. Many see it as a must, and a historical obligation to include the senior citizens in the definition of a “family”, if the government chooses to levy income tax by family.

“只有把抵扣项目、家庭范围等至关重要的问题讨论明白,我们才能清晰把握这次改革的方向,否则,很可能再一次陷入‘并税、增税、再并税’的黄宗羲定律怪圈。”刘远举表示。

“Only by clarifying the essential issues of tax deductibility and family definition can we become fully aware of the direction of the reform plan. Otherwise, we many fall into the vicious circle of ‘Huang Zongxi Theory’*, and revolve around the circle of ‘combing taxes, adding taxes, and combing taxes again’.”

(*Huang Zongxi was a renowned Chinese intellectual in Ming Dynasty, and “Huang Zongxi Theory” says that in the long history of China, government would combine taxes when the people complained about the tax burden, and would elevate tax rate when the people’s problems were resolved temporarily.)

由此可见,分步推进个税改革,在过程中逐步完善信息平台,最终实现按家庭征税的人性化税制,将是最现实可行的方式。“希望能看到有关部门尽快迈出第一步。”贾康说。

In light of that, the feasible process of China’s taxation reform might be – to push forward the reform in income tax step by step, to complete and optimize the information platform gradually, and to put into practice a humane method of levying income tax by family. “I hope to see that departments concerned take the first step in no time.” Thus commented Jia Kang.

print
Share now