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China may launch first-ever property tax in 1Q

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: China is set to further clamp down on the country's buoyant housing market by imposing a long-debated property tax for the first time in the southwestern city of Chongqing, domestic media reported on Monday, Jan 10.

Chongqing has "in principle" won approval from the Ministry of Finance and may introduce the property tax as early as this quarter, the China Securities Journal cited the city's government as saying.

Analysts expect the tax to be about 1%, the Journal said.

China has debated for many years about having a property tax but held back out of fears it may seriously harm the market.

Domestic media reports in recent months suggest, however, that China's government is finally warming to the idea and may impose a property tax on a trial basis in several cities including Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.

The China Business News said on Monday that Chongqing is likely to only tax high-end properties, in contrast to Shanghai, which reportedly will only tax selected second homes.

China has taken a slew of measures to cool its red-hot property market since late 2009 as part of efforts to fight speculative "hot money" flowing into the country.

Despite the measures, house prices in China's major cities soared by more than a fifth last year.

Analysts welcomed the tax as a way to restrain the market. — Reuters
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