Value Added Tax (VAT) in China

Value-added tax (VAT) is one of the major indirect taxes in China.

VAT rate: The standard VAT rate in China is 13%, but there are also reduced rates of 9%, 6%, and 3%.

Invoicing (VAT Fapiao): All businesses must issue VAT invoices for the sale of taxable goods and services in China. There are two types of invoices: general VAT invoices and special VAT invoices.

General VAT taxpayers refer to enterprises whose accumulated taxable income during a consecutive period of no more than 12 months, or four quarters, exceeds RMB 5 million or those who have a sound accounting system. Multiple VAT rates of 13%, 9%, and 6% apply to general VAT taxpayers. The input VAT can be credited against the output VAT.

Small-scale VAT taxpayers refer to enterprises whose accumulated taxable income during a consecutive period of no more than 12 months, or four quarters, are below RMB 5 million or without a sound accounting system. A 3% levying rate is applied to small-scale VAT taxpayers, but they cannot deduct input VAT from output VAT.

 general VAT taxpayersmall-scale VAT taxpayer
Taxable income> RMB 5 million≤ RMB 5 million
Rate6% to 13%3%
+ + +
Tax-saving when low profit (low-markup) products; collect and verify special VAT from supplier for VAT deduction, apply VAT tax rebate for export busienss.Tax-saving for high-profit (high markup) products; Can file VAT tax quarterly; Doesn’t need to collect and verify special VAT invoices for deduction, and the tax calculation method is straightforward; and Can enjoy certain VAT exemption benefits for small transactions.
– – –
as to file tax monthly; Has to collect special VAT invoices and verify them to ensure the input VAT deduction; and increasing tax burden when profit markup on cost higher than critical ratio*, or when the enterprise is unable to collect special VAT invoices for input VAT deduction.Has to keep in lower annual income (below RMB 5 million), can no enjoy export VAT tax rebate. Most general VAT taxpayers are dedicated to dealing with general VAT taxpayers. Small-scale VAT taxpayer cannot deduct input VAT from output VAT.
*The critical ratio here refers to a ratio of profit markup on cost under which the tax burden for the general taxpayer and small-scale taxpayer is the same. It varies based on the actual tax rates applied. 

Chinese VAT rates:

 Tax itemsVAT rate
Most goods and some servicesSales and imports of most goods (unless otherwise specified), Labour services, including processing, repair, or assembling services, Tangible moveable property leasing services13%
Real estate, transportation, postal and agricultureAgricultural, forestry, animal husbandry products: grains, vegetable oils, fresh milk, medicinal and other plants, agricultural machinery, fertilizer, and pesticide, Tap water, heating, cooling, gas, coal/charcoal products for residential use, Books, newspapers, magazines, audio-visual products, electronic publications, Transportation services, Postal services, Basic telecommunications services, Real estate, construction, transfer of ownership of properties and land use rights, real estate leasing service, Other goods specified by the state council 9%
ServicesFinancial and insurance services, Modern services: research and development, technical services, information technology services, cultural and creative services, logistics and ancillary services, leasing, consulting, radio, film and television services, etc. Lifestyle services: education, healthcare, travel, entertainment, catering, accommodation, cultural and sports services, other daily lifestyle services, Value-added telecommunications services, Intangible assets, excluding land-use rights, Sales of virtual props for online games 6%
Small-scale taxpayersFor most goods and services.3% (except certain actual transactions applicable to 5% VAT rate)
ExportsExport of goods and services (except where otherwise stipulated by the State Council)0%

General VAT taxpayer calculation method:

For general taxpayers, the calculation formula is as follows:

Tax payable = current output VAT – current input VAT – previous surplus input VAT

The output VAT is calculated as follows:

Output VAT = sales volume x tax rate

Where the sales volume is determined as follows:

Sales volume = sales volume including taxes / (1 + Tax rate)

The input VAT can be deducted from the output VAT to arrive at the tax payable. However, not all input VAT can be deducted. In order to deduct any input VAT, the company must receive a special VAT Fapiao where the tax amount is specified, and this amount must be verified in the online system of the tax bureau.

If the current output VAT is higher than the current input VAT, this will result in a VAT tax payable for the company. If the current input VAT is higher than the output VAT, the surplus amount of input VAT can be carried forward to the next period.

Small-scale VAT taxpayer calculation method:

The calculation method for small-scale taxpayer is a simplified calculation, because no able to deduct input VAT.

Tax payable = sales volume x tax rate (3%)

Sales volume = sales volume including taxes / (1 + Tax rate 3%)