China’s super-rich brace for tax raid on $24-trillion wealth pile

A woman on board a luxury yacht in China.Joannes Eisele/AFP

China’s plan to cut taxes in 2019 for the masses has the nation’s super-rich running for cover on concern the government will make up the shortfall by going after the wealthy.

Changes to the tax regime as of Jan. 1 mean authorities will be paying closer attention to assets and investment holdings. In a nation where personal wealth is estimated to have climbed to a record US$24 trillion in 2018 — US$1 trillion of which is held abroad — that potentially offers rich pickings. Anxiety over how the new rules will be enforced has already triggered a flood of Chinese clients seeking to create overseas trusts.

Tougher taxes at home could have implications beyond China’s shores, with the country’s wealthy having been on a buying binge in recent years, driving up prices for everything from property in Vancouver and Sydney, to famous artworks and fine wines.

Top