Beijing is set to experiment again with a property tax. First tried in 2011 in Shanghai and Chongqing , where the tax remains, the new trial period will last for five years. The tax did not make much difference in those cities, which saw prices soar; a nationwide roll-out was subsequently postponed. The central government no doubt expects a better outcome this time. When the scheme will start and which cities and regions will be targeted have yet to be announced. However, the mere announcement of such a plan is likely to cause some of the desired effects on China’s inflated property market. Those holding multiple properties in tier-one cities may be most worried and tempted to offload some investments before the new tax kicks in. Along with excessive corporate debt, power shortages and the pandemic threat to public health, high property prices are among the 10 challenges named by Beijing that the nation must face. The listing of the challenges comes at a time when there is a frequent narrative building up in Western countries about China’s economy reaching the end of the rope. It’s likely to be intended to show that the central government is well aware of the main problems but with great confidence, is in a position to address and resolve them. As such, it will help set the tone and policy direction of the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee and the Central Economic Work Conference, which will start on Monday. Affordable housing is key to what President Xi Jinping calls “common prosperity”, a programmatic mission statement for the nation to become more equitable and just. Homes, he famously said, were not for speculation, but for living in. But in recent years, Beijing has had little success reining in runaway prices in the property market. How much will China’s struggling local governments benefit from property tax? The property tax debate has been going on for a decade. It’s both complicated and controversial to impose because many local governments earn big chunks of revenue from land sales; many are already in deep debt. Developers are unlikely to pay top prices now, as many face scrutiny from regulators. The debt crisis of Evergrande, which at one point roiled world markets, has been a result of the new regulatory stance. Central authorities must therefore walk a fine line in introducing a nationwide property tax. Like their counterparts in Hong Kong, many young mainlanders cannot afford to buy their own homes without help from their parents. Beijing has made it an official policy to help them. That’s easier said than done, though, as the property market has taken up a disproportionately large share of the Chinese economy . It’s dangerous to burst the market bubble with a heavy tool such as a property tax. That’s why the authorities are moving ahead cautiously.