Globalization and Modernization as Drivers for Tax Reform in the Socialist Market Economy

Li Jin, Richard Krever


The unprecedented economic changes taking place in China over the past three decades have led to significant new fiscal pressures for the central and provincial governments. The relative decline of public ownership and rise of the private sector has forced governments to substitute revenues from new taxes for the funds formerly provided by public enterprises. The shift from profit distribution to tax revenues has led to a realignment of power between local governments and the central government while the growing disparity in wealth between have and have-not provinces has increased the pressure on the central government to further consolidate control over tax revenues and to apply the enhanced revenues to fund fiscal redistribution transfers. At the same time, modernization of the economy and the influx of foreign investment have created pressure to revamp tax laws and tax administration so both resemble more closely western market economy norms. These processes may lead to an irreversible shift of fiscal power from provincial governments to the central government and a consequent consolidation of political power, changing forever the political economy of modern China.

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