Chinese policymakers have revived efforts to roll out a much-anticipated property tax as part of a drive to tame soaring home prices which are beyond the affordability of the young generation. The Ministry of Finance said it had attended a high-level meeting with the Budget Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the Housing Ministry and the State Taxation Administration to solicit opinions from city representatives, experts and scholars on a pilot scheme for implementing the real estate tax. It did not disclose more details about the meeting in a statement issued late on Tuesday on its website. There had been no official mention of the plan over the last two years. The meeting signals that the central government is reviving its efforts to roll out the residential property levy soon to rein in runaway home prices, according to industry experts, after the problem was highlighted in the run-up to the “two sessions” in March. “The four authorities that participated in the meeting are the four that will be involved in implementing the property tax, from the one responsible for legislation to the one that will collect the tax,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institute. “ The signal is strong enough that it is very likely that the tax will appear within the [current] five-year plan period by 2025.” The meeting came after the central government highlighted the unaffordability of homes as a “difficulty” in Premier Li Keqiang’s annual work report in March. “We will keep the prices of land and housing, as well as market expectations, stable,” Li said in the report to China’s legislature in Beijing. “We will address prominent housing issues in large cities [and] make every effort to address the housing difficulties faced by our people, especially new urban residents and young people.” The Chinese government is anxious to prevent any grievances from housing affordability from spilling over into social instability, as it grapples to keep the economy growing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Homes have become so expensive that Chinese couples are putting off having a second baby, undermining government efforts to boost the population , according to a Beike Research Institute survey last November. “[The tax] could come within a year or two, considering the crazy speculation in cities like Shenzhen, where the home prices have increased too fast,” Yan added. China’s new residential properties tax will be based on “appraisal value” , Finance Minister Xiao Jie confirmed in an article published by the People’s Daily in December 2017. He suggested the necessary legislation would be completed in 2019. In March, China omitted mention of the property tax in its 2021 legislative plan for a second consecutive year as the government focuses on boosting consumption to cement an economic rebound. The legislation remains in the country’s economic development plan for 2021-2025. ‘I don’t want to have children’: China’s young people shy from high cost of kids “First-tier cities like Shenzhen are likely to be targeted as home prices remain high,” said Andy Lee, chief executive for southern China at Centaline Property Agency, which has 1,500 branches in the country. Home prices in Shenzhen, the most expensive city to own a flat, have soared 179 per cent since January 2020. But they retreated 7 per cent to an average of 56,149 yuan per square metre in April from a year ago after 13 rounds of market-cooling measures that began last summer, according to data from the E-house China Research and Development Institute. “In our view, any wide-reaching tax regime change is likely to take a number of years to implement nationwide, so its contribution to the stabilisation of home prices would be for the long term rather than immediate,” said Chris Yip, senior director at S&P Global Ratings. Some owners of several flats are expected to reduce their holdings as the introduction of the property tax re-emerges. “Once the property tax is introduced, in the short term some homeowners [holding several flats] will offload their assets and even slash their asking prices, and we will see average home prices going down as a result in the cities that will roll out the pilot scheme,” said Xu Xiaole, chief analyst with the Beike Research Institute.