The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The value-added tax (VAT) in China has the unusual feature that capital goods are included in the VAT base. In addition, most services are subject to the business tax, which is not creditable against VAT, but which accrues to local governments, and operates as a turnover tax. On grounds of economic efficiency, it would be desirable to eliminate these distortions so that domestic producers are not increasingly placed at a disadvantage as China dismantles tariff and nontariff barriers on competing goods. Reforming indirect taxation would however generate considerable revenue losses for local governments and, in the absence of any compensatory mechanisms, there would be significant impediments to the needed reforms. This paper focuses on the extent of revenue losses, their distribution across provinces, and possible options for compensation.