Bumper year in 2012-13 as tax revenue hits record HK$242b

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 5:37am

Hong Kong collected record-breaking tax revenue of HK$242.2 billion for the 2012/13 fiscal year, thanks to healthy growth in company earnings.

"The economy was quite good in 2011," Commissioner of Inland Revenue Chu Yam-yuen said yesterday, as he announced that profits tax reached HK$125.6 billion, another record.

Betting duty also hit an all-time high, rising 5 per cent to HK$16.6 billion. Chu said this was the result of bigger crowds at races and more people betting on soccer.

Property tax rose 16 per cent to HK$2.3 billion - another record.

Chu expected tax revenue to increase further in the current financial year despite a drop in stamp duty as a result of the government's attempts to cool the overheated property market.

In 2010 the government imposed an additional special stamp duty of 15 per cent on homes sold within six months of purchase; 10 per cent extra on those resold within a year and 5 per cent on those resold within two years.

Looking ahead, Chu said total tax income was expected to reach HK$245.9 billion in 2013/14. This would be achieved despite an expected 7 per cent drop in stamp duty to HK$40 billion from HK$42.8 billion last year.

Despite the growth in business, there was a 2 per cent drop in the amount of salaries tax collected, to HK$50.5 billion, the first fall since 2008. Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, lawmaker for the accountancy sector, said this was evidence that economic growth only "favoured those at the top".

In 2011/12, the top 100,000 earners contributed 65.9 per cent of total salaries tax, followed by 15 per cent given by the next 100,000 taxpayers. Leung added that salaries tax only reflected part of the income of top executives.

The city has been under pressure to improve its taxation regime to tackle growing concerns over tax evasion.

An amendment has been tabled to the Legislative Council, so the Hong Kong government can conduct tax information exchanges with other jurisdictions.

Taxation Institute of Hong Kong president Philip Hung urged the government to make strategic investments with the proceeds on social policies including education and medical services.