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The Beijing billionaires who set up cryptically named companies in the British Virgin Islands to hold their fortunes are in the cross hairs. So are the Guangdong salesmen living and working in Africa and Latin America. China’s tax officials are now demanding that citizens start reporting exactly how much money they earn overseas.
In asking for this information, national and municipal tax agencies in China are quietly beginning to enforce a little-known and widely ignored regulation: Citizens and companies must pay domestic taxes on their entire worldwide incomes, not just on what they earn in China.
The nascent campaign this winter puts China on the same side as the United States in a global debate over whether taxation should be primarily national or global. On the other side of the issue are European nations, Japan, Australia and Canada, all of which tax people within their borders but exempt most expatriates and overseas subsidiaries from paying income taxes in their home countries.
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