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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Center for Policy Research

Yilin Hou (PAIA) travelled to Beijing in late October to describe to the Chinese academic and public policy communities plans that he has formulated for a new Chinese local-tax system. Hou has been sponsored to do this work by the China Fiscal Policy Center in Beijing. 

Hou spoke at Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy on the occasion of the school’s 15th anniversary. He discussed the rationale for local-government taxes, why those should take the form of property tax, and how this tax may improve local governance, thus helping to solve a multitude of socio-political problems accumulating during recent decades of fast economic growth and relatively slow and lagging social reforms.

Hou then hosted and led a symposium at the Central University of Finance and Economics, where he shared an abbreviated version of his comprehensive property tax plan. Attending this session were central government officials (National People’s Congress and Ministry of Finance), researchers from major universities that are strong in public finance, and experts from important think tanks in Beijing (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and research institutes under the Ministry of Finance and the State Tax Administration). These researchers, experts, and government officials provided feedback and suggestions on how to make the plan more practicable in China. Also present at the symposium were journalists from five journals and newspapers that specialize in economic, finance, and taxation reporting.  

Hou next made an invited speech to graduate students and faculty at the Renmin University’s School of Public Finance, where he explained major differences between his property tax plan and several others in wide circulation in China. He elaborated on the pros and cons of each plan.

Finally, Hou stopped at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics School of Public Finance, where he met with a small group of professors who have done similar research, to share ideas on the Chinese version of local property tax. He also conducted a Q&A session with a reporter from the Shanghai-based China Business News, which soon will be making a special report on the topic of local taxes. Hou’s local property tax design for China will be published next year as a book in Beijing.