Tax wizards in demand as Beijing tightens scrutiny of foreign firms

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 November, 2016, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 November, 2016, 9:01am

The demand for tax professionals in China is rising as Beijing tightens scrutiny of the tax practices of multinationals, industry sources say.

While foreign companies on the mainland are slowing hiring of senior finance executives, demand for tax planning experts is increasing after Beijing pledged to fill “cross-border tax loopholes” and collect the financial data of “non-residents” starting from next year, a move that could increase obligations for firms from overseas.

While such measures are not solely targeted at foreign businesses, such firms are more likely to engage in cross-border deals, which makes them vulnerable.

“The tweaking and updating of tax rules has been a major driver in the growing demand for tax professionals and services,” said Karmen Yeung, a tax expert and a partner with KPMG China.

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Yeung said a tighter grip on collection could also be the result of challenges Beijing faced to better secure fiscal revenues to shore up the economy.

The tweaking and updating of tax rules has been a major driver in the growing demand for tax professionals and services
Karmen Yeung, KPMG China

Value-added tax reform, which has led to lower obligations on companies, was also squeezing inflows, the Finance Ministry said, although it was arguable some individual companies in certain segments could face a higher tax burden under the regime. The reform has been ambiguous and complex at best – creating another source of demand for tax experts.

Simon Lance, managing director at recruitment agency Hays China, said the greater demand for tax experts had become more apparent in recent months as multinationals sought to smoothly navigate the tax regime.

Recruitment of senior finance professionals had slowed within foreign multinationals, but the jostling for tax, audit and compliance professionals remained strong, with top talent able to command strong pay increases.

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A China tax director could expect an annual salary package of between 900,000 yuan (HK$1 million) and 1.4 million yuan, while a regional tax director could earn up to 1.8 million yuan, up about 25 per cent to 30 per cent over a year ago, Lance said.

Chinese private businesses are also increasing their demand for tax experts, as many ramp up their investment abroad and require advice from experts familiar with overseas tax regimes.