By Stephen Nelson, Partner and Head of King & Wood’s Taxation Practice

It is not uncommon for foreign investors to sell the shares of intermediate holding companies that hold the equity in Chinese companies as a way to exit their investments in China, in order to get around government approval procedures, as well as to avoid PRC tax on their capital gains. It certainly appears that these offshore transfers may be examined by the China tax authorities going forward, and may no longer escape the Chinese tax net. Recently, the State Administration of Taxation (the “SAT”) issued the circular Guoshuihan [2009] No. 698, “Strengthening the Tax Administration of Equity Transfers by Non-resident Enterprises” ("Circular 698”), which, for the first time, explicitly requires disclosure to the tax authorities of offshore indirect transfers of equity in PRC companies. The tax authorities may then examine the transferred offshore holding company in order to ascertain whether the structure has a reasonable commercial purpose – if not, the offshore gain could be held subject to Chinese tax.Continue Reading Offshore Equity Transfers – Next Target for PRC Tax Anti-avoidance Attack