On 14 March 2019, the Ministry of Finance and the State Taxation Administration jointly issued Caishui  No. 31 (“Circular 31”) – Notice on Preferential Individual Income Tax Policy for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. Circular 31 outlines details of the IIT policy which is designed to attract foreign high-end and urgently-needed talents (including people from Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan region) to the GBA.
In order to implement the preferential IIT policy set out in Circular 31, on 22 June 2019, the Department of Finance of Guangdong Province and the Guangdong Provincial Tax Authority jointly issued Yue Caishui  No. 2 (“Circular 2”) – Notice on the Implementation of Preferential Individual Income Tax Policy for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, which sets out the general framework for determining eligibility and extent of the IIT subsidy available under the Policy, amongst other factors.
Circular 2 takes retroactive effect from 1 January 2019 for a trial period of one year, and is subject to review and change after completion of the trial period.
Specific subsidy standards and computation methods
Personal income eligible for subsidy
The subsidy will be calculated on the IIT differentials assessed on the following types of personal income (“eligible personal income”):
Talent mobility within GBA
Qualified talents who derive eligible personal income from two or more locations within the GBA should apply to the Department of Finance of each city for a proportion of the IIT differentials due from income tax paid in that city.
Definition of talent
Foreign high-end talents and urgently-needed talents that meet all of the basic criteria below as well as one of the other criteria are qualified to apply for the subsidy:
Principles of declaration and recognition
Foreign high-end talents and urgently-needed talents must apply for recognition of their status and eligibility for the subsidy voluntarily and objectively. Detailed standards and operational measures will be subject to local practice to be adopted by authorities in the Nine Cities.
Authorities designated to assess eligibility for Subsidy
|Authorities for High-end Talent Assessment||The Department of Science and Technology (the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) of each of the Nine Cities|
|Authorities for Urgently-needed Talent Assessment||The Human Resources and Social Security Department|
|Authorities for Subsidy Application, Assessment and Distribution||
The application should be submitted to the local Department of Finance by:
Standards for identifying talent in each city and measures for subsidy distribution
The Nine Cities shall, in light of actual conditions of the locality, formulate local standards for talent identification and measures for subsidy distribution, and submit their standards and measures to the Provincial Department of Finance, the Provincial Department of Science and Technology (the Provincial Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) and the Provincial Human Resources and Social Security Department for records by the end of July 2019.
The above-mentioned provincial authorities and the Guangdong Provincial Tax Authority will assist the Nine Cities to identify talent and distribute subsidies in a unified manner.
Consequences for violations and false declarations
If an applicant is found to have violated laws or regulations, made false declarations, or committed other infractions, the individual’s enjoyment of the preferential IIT policy will be cancelled, and financial subsidies that have already been issued will be retracted. If a person is suspected of committing a crime, the individual will be transferred to the judiciary authorities for criminal investigation in accordance with relevant laws.
Yue Caifa  No. 93 – Announcement on Interim Administrative Measures for the Individual Income Tax Differential Subsidy for Permanent Residents of Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR working in Zhuhai Hengqin New District, issued by the Department of Finance of Guangdong Province will be repealed effective 1 January 2019.
General framework for talent identification confirmed and detailed implementation rules are required to move the application process forward
Circular 2 is designed to accelerate implementation of the preferential IIT policy set out in Circular 31. The Notice provides the framework for defining talent and the principles for declaration, both of which reflect the preferential policy’s requirement that foreign high-end talents and urgently-needed talents must be working or operating a start-up in the GBA.
However, detailed guidance is needed with regard to the types of industries and areas which will be considered as “key performers” to the Guangdong province. Input is also needed from each of the Nine Cities with regard to its owned criteria for identifying other urgently-needed individuals with special skills. The policies and measures that the municipalities will submit by the end of July are expected to address these issues. These policies will also elaborate on the specific application procedures, required documents, timeline, and other issues.
Simple calculation and significant tax relief
Circular 2 clarifies the calculation of the subsidy, which is based on IIT paid in excess of 15% of taxable income. This simple calculation method will help reduce application costs and make the assessment process easier for relevant governmental departments.
In the table below, we have selected the annual salary income levels of RMB 0.72 million, 0.96 million and 1.2 million respectively and compared their effective tax rates before and after enjoyment of the GBA’s tax subsidies. We have also compared the effective tax rates between Hong Kong SAR and mainland China under the same annual salary income level.
Annual Salaries and Wages Income
PRC Individual Income Tax Rate before Enjoying the GBA Subsidies
（Effective Tax Rate）
PRC Individual Income Tax Rate after Enjoying the GBA Subsidies
（Effective Tax Rate）
Hong Kong SAR Salaries Tax Rate
（Effective Tax Rate）
The comparison shows that the tax subsidies significantly reduce tax burdens in mainland China, basically bringing tax burdens in line with those in Hong Kong SAR. In this way, the tax burdens for qualified foreign talent who work in the GBA will be effectively reduced. If these individuals’ IIT is borne by the companies, the subsidies will effectively reduce companies’ labour costs.
Rearranging business and personnel strategies in the GBA
In light of the GBA’s preferential tax policies, many companies have begun to review their business plan as well as deployment of personnel to/within the GBA with the aim of facilitating overall business and company development.
In summary, we suggest that companies consider the following aspects with regard to business development in the GBA:
KPMG will continue to update you on the latest GBA policy developments and share our observations and insights through alerts and workshops.