Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Chinese 'Tea Party' starts call for lower taxes

It all started with the humble steamed bun, a white, tasteless bread roll eaten as a filler in northern China.

Pan Yaomin, a representative in a municipal-level People's Political Consultative Conference, submitted to that body -- which advises parliament -- a proposal for cutting what he called the "steamed bun tax." "The steamed bun is a daily necessity for many people, and it's just not right to pay high taxes on it," he told Reuters. In truth, there is no levy targeted just at steam buns. Pan's contention was that the buns should be treated as a grain product, which is assessed a 13 percent value added tax, rather than as a processed food, charged a 17 percent VAT. He touched a chord with his proposal, fuelling widespread discussion in Chinese media and prompting local tax authorities to defend their position and explain they did not have the power to make changes.