China Residency Rules May Increase Taxes on Foreign National Employees

China residency rules are changing with the implementation of a new law. The People’s Republic of China Individual Income Tax law has abolished the 5-year tax exemption period during which a foreign national employee does not have to pay income tax on their worldwide earnings. As a result, foreign national employees working in China may face higher taxes on their earnings.

What are the Current China Residency Rules?

Currently, foreign national employees have an exemption for five years before they must pay income tax on their worldwide earnings. Until the five year requirement is met, they only owe income tax on their earnings in China. Also, the current China residency rules require five full years before tax on worldwide earnings takes effect. Foreign national employees with absences are able to avoid the tax requirement if they break residency with one of the following scenarios:

  1. Have an absence of 30 or more days continuously on a single trip during the year.
  2. Have an absence of 90 or more days over multiple trips during the year.

What are the New China Residency Rules?

The new China residency rules eliminate the full year requirement for residency starting January 1, 2019. Instead, foreign national employees who are a resident in a People’s Republic of China-treaty country, and who work in China more than 183 days in a given year, will owe taxes on worldwide earnings. Foreign national employees receive an exemption for China income tax if they do not exceed 183 days residing in China.

Foreign national employees from a non-treaty country have a much shorter China tax exemption of only 90 days. After 90 days, these employees would owe tax to China on their worldwide earnings.

What Should Employers Expect?

Employers in China should expect that the new China residency rules may require employees to pay taxes on their worldwide earnings to China if they exceed 183 days residing in China during a year. Also, there is no mention of any five year period to determine residency, so employees may face immediate tax obligations.

What Should Employers do?

Employers should review their current employment situations in China to determine how the new China residency rules will impact their company and their employees residing in China. They should also provide information to their employees residing in China so the employees can prepare for possible tax obligations accordingly.


Global Mobility Solutions’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients with their country-specific employment, visa, and residency requirements. We can help your company understand how to respond effectively to new China residency rules.

Learn how your company can mitigate the impact of China residency rules and resulting tax impacts on employees from Global Mobility Solutions, the relocation industry and technology experts who are dedicated to keeping you informed and connected. Contact our experts online to discuss your company’s relocation program needs, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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