Rural Informal Taxation in China: Historical Evolution and an Analytic Framework

18 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2007

See all articles by Justin Y. Lin

Justin Y. Lin

Peking University - China Center for Economic Research

Mingxing Liu

Peking University - School of Government

Abstract

The present paper examines the historical evolution of China's rural taxation system from the pre-reform period to the late 1990s. We propose that because of information asymmetry between the upper-level and the lower-level governments, local governments had to be granted some informal tax autonomy to fulfill the upper-level policy mandates. This easily led to excessive local informal taxation on farmers. As market liberalization of the grain sector progressed, the low-cost tax instruments implemented through the traditional approach of implicit taxation gradually eroded. Local governments in agricultural regions had to resort to informal fees collected directly from individual rural households while the more industrialized regions shifted to non-agricultural taxes that are less costly in terms of tax collection. Hence, political tension between farmers and local governments in agriculture-based regions emerged and rural tax reform became necessary.

Suggested Citation

Lin, Justin Yifu and Liu, Mingxing, Rural Informal Taxation in China: Historical Evolution and an Analytic Framework. China & World Economy, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 1-18, May-June 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1009713 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-124X.2007.00065.x

Justin Yifu Lin (Contact Author)

Peking University - China Center for Economic Research ( email )

No. 38 Xueyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Mingxing Liu

Peking University - School of Government ( email )

No. 38 Xueyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

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