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New Relief Measures for Service Industry &Small Business in 2022

The service industry and small businesses in China will benefit from a series of new relief measures ranging from tax exemptions to monetary support from financial institutions. The beneficial policies target some of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including catering, retail, and travel. Small businesses are the bedrock of China’s economy and their long-term health and development will therefore be key to ensuring China’s future economic growth.

China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), along with several other government departments, has released a raft of measures to shore up support for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the service industry.

 

Tax reductions and fiscal support for small businesses in China

The policies provide the extension of several tax reductions for small businesses in China. These include:

Extending the policy of additional deduction of value-added tax (VAT) in the service industry. In 2022, the deductible input tax of taxpayers in the production and living service industries will continue to be deducted by 10 percent and 15 percent of the taxable amount respectively.

Extending the applicable scope of the “six taxes and two fees” policy in 2022. This policy, first introduced in 2019 to help ease the tax burden of small-scale VAT taxpayers, allows provincial governments to reduce the “six taxes and two fees” within 50 percent of the tax amount. The “six taxes” are:

Resource tax

Urban maintenance and construction tax

Property tax

Urban land use tax

Stamp duty (excluding securities transaction stamp duty)

Farmland occupation tax

The “two fees” are:

Education surcharges

Local education surcharges

This tax benefit was originally applicable between January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2021, and applied only to small-scale VAT taxpayers. The policy has now been extended to 2022 and expanded to include eligible small low-profit enterprises and individual industrial and commercial merchants in the services industry.

Encouraging all localities to grant taxpayers who have difficulties in paying real estate tax and urban land use tax in 2022, where local regulations and conditions permit.

Increasing the pre-tax deduction of equipment and appliances for MSMEs.

In addition to tax reductions, the policy list outlines several fiscal measures to support small businesses in China, which include:

Extending the inclusive insurance policy for unemployment and stable work resumption for companies that do not have layoffs or reduce layoffs and increase the return ratio of MSMEs from 60 percent to a maximum of 90 percent.

Reducing the rent for MSMEs and individual industrial and commercial merchants located in medium or high-risk COVID-19 areas that rent state-owned property. These businesses can have their rent reduced for a period of six months in 2022. Businesses in other areas can have their rent reduced for three months in 2022. All localities are encouraged to coordinate funding to extend rent support to businesses that rent non-state-owned property.

Guiding banks to properly allocate the RMB 2.2 trillion of funds released by the two reductions in the required reserve ratio (RRR) in 2021.

Relief measures for catering, retail, 

and travel businesses

Recognizing that service-oriented businesses and their employees are particularly COVID-19 restrictions, the policy list outlines specific measures to mitigate the potential impact. These measures include:

Encouraging eligible areas to roll out free and periodic COVID-19 testing for employees in catering and retail businesses and provide subsidies and support to enterprises for expenditures related to epidemic prevention and sterilization. Specifically, catering and retail employees are eligible for subsidies of at least 50 percent of their regular nucleic acid tests in 2022.

Allowing provinces with relatively large cash surpluses in unemployment insurance and work-related injury insurance funds to implement phased payment deferrals for unemployment insurance and work-related injury insurance premiums for catering, retail, and travel enterprises. Eligible catering, retail, and travel enterprises can apply to defer payments with the approval of the government of the place in which they are insured for a period of up to one year. No late payment fees will be charged during the deferment period.

Encouraging government financing guarantee agencies to provide financing and credit enhancement support for eligible catering and retail MSMEs, fulfilling their legal responsibilities for vicarious liability in a timely manner, and actively helping enterprises affected by the epidemic to renew their guarantees and loans.

Supporting qualified localities to inject capital into government financing guarantee agencies and provide financing guarantee fee subsidies.

Relief measures for catering businesses

To mitigate the effects of COVID-19 prevention and control policies, the list outlines the following measures geared specifically toward catering MSMEs:

Guiding internet platforms, such as those providing food delivery services, to further lower service fees for merchants and reduce the operating costs of relevant catering companies, and guiding internet platforms to give phased preferential service fees to merchants that are in medium and high-risk COVID-19 areas.

Encouraging insurance institutions to optimize products and services for catering businesses

Expanding the coverage of business interruption insurance for losses due to the pandemic, improving the efficiency of claims settlements.

Improving the degree of protection for catering enterprises. Encouraging qualified places to give premium subsidies.

Encouraging insurance agencies to optimize products and services, expand the coverage of business interruption insurance for losses due to the pandemic, improving the efficiency of claims settlement, and improving the degree of protection for catering enterprises. Encouraging qualified places to give premium subsidies.

 

Relief measures for tourism businesses

To alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and travel industry, the policy list outlines a series of supportive measures, which include the extension of supportive policies implemented at the beginning of the pandemic. The measures include:

Extending the policy to temporarily refund travel agencies’ service quality deposits in 2022, which was first implemented in 2020. The refund rate will remain at 80 percent for eligible travel agencies. Places that meet certain conditions will be able to further increase the temporary refund rate.

Encouraging banking and financial institutions to increase the credit supply for the tourism industry.

Guiding financial institutions to reasonably reduce interest rates for newly issued loans.

Encouraging qualified tourism businesses to issue corporate credit bonds and expand diversified financing channels for tourism enterprises.

Increasing inclusive financial support for MSMEs with good development prospects engaged in travel, tourism, performing arts, and other fields.

Encouraging banking and financial institutions to provide small loans to individual industrial and commercial merchants, such as tourism-related start-ups, MSMEs, and themed homestays.

Relief measures for transport businesses

In 2022, transport businesses can enjoy a range of tax benefits and supportive measures, including:

One year suspension of the VAT prepayment by railway and civil aviation enterprises.

VAT exemption for public transport services, such as ferries, public buses, subways, urban light rail, taxis, long-distance passenger transport, and shuttle buses.

Continuation of central government subsidies for the purchase of eligible new energy buses.

Local governments can coordinate central-to-local transfer payments and local financial resources to support airlines and airports in implementing COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

Continuation of central government subsidies for qualified air routes and building security capabilities through the Civil Aviation Development Fund.

Continuation of subsidies for the operation and building security capabilities of small and medium-sized airports and affiliated airports through the Civil Aviation Development Fund

Providing discounts for civil aviation infrastructure loans, and providing investment subsidies for the construction of airports and air traffic control projects.

 

Long-term support for small businesses in China

With China’s zero-COVID policy showing no signs of easing, the government must ensure a stronger safety net for companies, and these policy measures for the service industry mark a significant step in increasing support for MSMEs, but likely won’t be the last.

Not long after the policy list was released, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) reversed a decision made in October 2021 that would ban business owners from accepting payments through their personal mobile barcodes.  In its latest announcement, however, the PBOC changed its stance, stating that business owners could choose to use their own barcode or apply for a new merchant’s barcode, likely due to the outsized negative impact this would have on small businesses in China.

It is highly likely that we will see the roll-out of more supportive measures to increase support for MSMEs in other industries. The government is keen on cultivating new startups, particularly in the fields of technology and telecommunications, as MSMEs are a key driver of innovation and a large source of patent filings.

Although it is not explicitly stated in the policy list, it is possible that small and medium-sized foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) in services industries will also be eligible for the supportive measures described above.

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