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2015-03-24    来源:forbes    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

China's Thousand Shades Of Grey: A New Campaign Against Multinationals

On Wednesday, China’s State Administration of Taxation issued a notice containing regulations governing payments to related parties.

The new transfer-pricing rules require that payments to related foreign entities be arm’s-length in nature. They also specify four types of payments not considered as such. The four types, which are ruled to be non-deductible, generally include transfers to parties not having business operations and unable to discharge their obligations, payments for labor not conferring economic benefit on Chinese-based payors, royalties for intangible assets not adding value, and royalties for “fringe benefits” relating to capital market activity.

On Friday, the State Administration of Taxation issued a press release on the rules. There was helpful background information but little technical clarification of the four types of non-deductible payments.

Patrick Yip of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu told the South China Morning Post that tax authorities will especially be looking at outbound service payments.
德勤会计师事务所(Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu)大中华地区税务副主管合伙人叶伟文(Patrick Yip)告诉《南华早报》说,税务当局将会尤其关注企业因接受境外关联方提供服务而支付的费用。

Beijing’s attempt to halt questionable related-party payments comes amid the OECD’s ongoing “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” initiative and just days after new policies issued by the European Union, Britain, and Australia.

The new rules also follow “China’s first major anti-tax evasion case,” which snagged a taxpayer identified as “M.” In November, Xinhua News Agency announced that the U.S.-based multinational was handing over 840 million yuan in back taxes and interest ($137 million) and paying 100 million yuan in additional taxes in each following year. China Daily, also an official outlet, confirmed that the delinquent taxpayer was Microsoft. The paper stated that no other business fit Xinhua’s description.

The software giant will surely not be the last company to fork over large sums to the Chinese tax authorities. There’s no question multinationals have been engaging in unreasonable transfer-pricing schemes to reduce Beijing’s tax bite. The issue going forward, however, is the fairness of China’s tax enforcement efforts.

There are concerns. Transfer pricing is, by its nature, an especially complicated area of taxation. As Chas Roy-Chowdhury of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants noted in comments to the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business website, there are “shaded areas of grey.” China, like most countries, does not have the expertise to fairly handle the complexities of transfer-pricing cases.
有些人对此感到担忧。从其本质来说,转让定价是一个特别复杂的征税领域。正如特许公认会计师公会税务主管乍·罗伊-乔杜里(Chas Roy-Chowdhury)在长江商学院网站上发表的评论中所指出的,这些是“灰色阴影领域”。和大多数国家一样,中国并不具备公平处理转让定价之复杂性的专长。

Moreover, there are hints in Chinese media that the country’s tax authorities will be especially prejudicial. One report, for example, indicates that multinationals, in making allocations of income to China, will be required to take into account the country’s “special market factors.” In other words, foreigners will have to apportion greater income to China to be taxed there.

But this is not just a question of Beijing’s fairness. Transfer-pricing cases are especially prone to abuse by a government determined to disadvantage foreign business. These cases allow tax authorities to review large amounts of sensitive information. Once the State Administration of Taxation gets it hands on such data, it can—and probably will—turn the valuable material over to Chinese competitors.

Unfortunately for multinationals, several adverse trends are coinciding. First, the Chinese generally feel they have much less need for foreign business.

Second, the sense of official grievance has become particularly acute as the state sees non-Chinese competitors reaping big profits.

Third, Beijing needs renminbi. When Premier Li Keqiang this month said central leaders have “more tools in our toolbox” to create growth, he meant spending yuan the government currently does not have. At the just-concluded National People’s Congress meeting he promised spending increases—10.6% for the central government—in excess of targeted economic growth of “approximately 7%.” In reality, the economy will not grow anywhere near that rate this year, potentially creating a larger deficit than anticipated. At the moment, Beijing projects a budget deficit of 2.7% of gross domestic product.

And to make matters worse, local governments will be especially cash-strapped in the coming months. They are especially dependent on plummeting land-sale revenue at a time when they must service more than $3 trillion in debt. The recently announced plan to swap debt of 1 trillion yuan into government notes, a good first step, is only a stop-gap measure.

As Anne Stevenson-Yang of J Capital Research points out in an important March 16 note, “the recapture of funds” is the Communist Party’s “overarching goal” this year. This theme connects the so-called anti-corruption campaign, which has resulted in the collection of large sums from venal officials, to efforts to claw back profits from multinationals. Not only was “M” forced to pay a significant amount, but also Qualcomm agreed this February to pay a record-breaking fine of 6.088 billion yuan.
正如美奇金投资咨询公司(J Capital Research)创始人安妮·史蒂文森·杨(Anne Stevenson-Yang,中文名:杨思安)3月16日在一份重要的报告中指出的,“拿回资金”是中国执政党今年的“首要目标”。这一主题将所谓的反腐败运动(已经促使中国政府从贪官手中没收巨额资金)与旨在从跨国公司手中收回利润的行动联系起来。不仅M公司被迫支付一大笔资金,高通公司(Qualcomm)今年2月也同意支付破纪录的60.88亿元人民币罚款。

So multinationals, after the March 18 tax notice, can expect tax authorities to vigorously pursue transfer-pricing cases in the immediate future.

Yet revenue-hungry Chinese authorities will probably not stop there. The next target could be the large payments to foreign shareholders by publicly listed Chinese Internet businesses, like Alibaba Group Holding. These transfers are made through Variable Interest Entity structures, which employ multiple tax-haven vehicles. Beijing has essentially blessed these payments by allowing stock offerings to proceed in markets outside China, but there is little to prevent a change of official attitude.
然而渴望获得财政收入的中国当局很可能不会就此罢手。下一个目标可能是诸如阿里巴巴等公开上市的中国互联网企业向外国股东支付的大额资金。这些资金转移是通过可变利益实体(Variable Interest Entity)结构进行的,这个结构采用了多种避税工具。中国政府通过允许此类企业在境外市场进行股票发行,已经基本上默许了这些转让支付,但没有什么可以阻止官方态度发生变化。

“Western economies have laws with lasting effects,” said an unnamed lawyer to Stevenson-Yang. “China has campaigns.” This year Beijing’s most recent campaign means few payments leaving China will be safe.

intangible adj. 无形的,触摸不到的;难以理解的

deductible adj. 可扣除的;可减免的

questionable adj. 可疑的;有问题的

multinational adj. 跨国公司的;多国的

expertise n. 专门知识;专门技术;专家的意见

allocation n. 分配,配置;安置

grievance n. 不满,不平;委屈;冤情


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