Articles: Tax & budget

Webb on "Backchat" re the Budget
RTHK, 24-Feb-2022
Taster: isn't it amazing that the HK Govt couldn't find housing for people in cage-homes and sub-divided apartments for years, but can now build tens of thousands of isolation units in a couple of months?
Employment Support Scheme: the final outcome
After information requests by Webb-site, we reveal that HK's largest ever corporate handout went over-budget by about HK$10bn to a final tally of HK$90.5bn (US$11.6bn) plus costs. We produce a final list of approved claims. (13-Feb-2022)
Webb on "Backchat" re consumption vouchers
RTHK, 5-Jul-2021
SFC launches Govt welfare scheme for property tycoons
Well, not all tycoons, only larger ones. (10-May-2021)
The Budget and HK's Road to Serfdom
The so-called "Consumption Voucher" will probably become another cash handout, a total of HK$108bn over 2 years - but that's not the point. HK's budget has long since deviated from the Basic Law requirement to keep the budget in line with Gross Domestic Product over time, having expanded by over a quarter since the 1997 Handover. HK is becoming a tax-and-spend interventionist economy, departing from the free-market principles at the root of its success. (26-Feb-2021)
Webb on "Backchat" re the Budget
RTHK, 25-Feb-2021
ESS Revealed
As part of our push for open data, Webb-site tonight publishes the first detailed analysis of approved claims under the so-called "Employment Support Scheme", including league tables of the top 5,000 recipients and a search function for all recipients. (13-Dec-2020)
Webb on "Backchat" re Lantau Tomorrow and our proposal for a COVID Isolation Compensation SchemeCICS
RTHK, 19-Nov-2020
Part 2 on COVID and CICS begins at 47:26. See our article of 16-Nov-2020.
Webb on "Backchat" re HK Disneyland, Supermarkets
RTHK, 28-Sep-2020
Webb on "Backchat" re HK Government finances & COVID
RTHK, 18-Aug-2020
Government misled LegCo over COVID-19 broker handout
Applying to the Finance Committee, the Government made claims which it knew or should have known were false and misleading. It was either lying or reckless. Webb-site tells you the truth. (1-May-2020)
Webb on "Backchat" re HK budget
RTHK, 28-Feb-2020
Webb on CNBC re HK budget
CNBC, 26-Feb-2020
Also discussing the economy, school closures in HK while Singapore's remain open, the HK$10k per voter handout ahead of the September LegCo elections, and the budget to promote the rule of law ahead of the proposed National Anthem Ordinance.
Webb on "Backchat" re taxes and handouts
RTHK, 21-Jan-2020
Ex-civil servant & husband jailed for HK$4.9m housing allowance fraud
ICAC, 15-Jan-2020
Why does the Government pay more to those who rent a home than to those who don't? In the private sector, people get what their skills are worth, no more, no less. Mr Luk was worth what his employer paid him. If he had received it as salary rather than housing allowance then his wife would have been in the clear, but he probably wanted the weird HK tax break in which housing is only assessed as 10% of cash pay, regardless of value. That should be scrapped.
Webb on "Backchat" re Salaries Tax and Profits Tax
RTHK, 30-Jan-2019
A simpler, fairer tax system
There are calls for a rental deduction for HK salaries tax, to compensate for the mortgage interest deduction. Both miss the point. Governments should not use tax breaks to distort consumer choice. Give people unconditional higher personal allowances instead, and introduce a flat rate of tax above that. Also, abolish the tiered rate of profits tax and the R&D deduction, 2 gimmicks introduced by Carrie Lam. (30-Jan-2019)
Webb on "Backchat" re the HK property market, rates and taxes
RTHK, 13-Dec-2018
Webb on "Backchat" re taxing vacant flats
RTHK, 19-Mar-2018
Webb on "Backchat" re the HK budgetAlternative budget speech
RTHK, 8-Feb-2018
The wrong way to pay civil servants
A new ICAC case reminds us that the Government and public sector get bad value for taxpayers and lose good people by paying time-limited benefits that are based on irrelevant factors rather than the value of their services. Scrap all the benefits schemes and pay people what they are worth. At the same time, remove the housing loophole from salaries tax, raise personal allowances and bring down the tax rate to compensate. (13-Jan-2018)
HK authorities seize 8500 mobile phones worth HK$8m after high-speed boat chase
South China Morning Post, 20-Dec-2017
Go figure: HK doesn't charge VAT or import/export duties, so HK public money is spent protecting mainland government revenues and suppressing demand for the goods in HK, hence reducing HK taxable profits. HK is a freeport under Basic Law Article 114 and should start behaving like one.
The CE's damaging tax proposals: a better approach
The Government proposes distortive gimmicks and loopholes rather than addressing structural issues. Public expenditure has grown faster than GDP, breaching the Basic Law. Revenues have grown even faster, draining capital from the economy. Time to return it. A flat rate of 10% for Profits Tax and Salaries Tax is entirely affordable. What is R&D anyway? New armies of tax consultants and assessors do not make our economy more productive. (24-Oct-2017)
Webb on "BackChat" re HK's declining income gap and the need to improve efficiency of public spending
RTHK, 13-Jun-2017
HK's narrowing income gap
HK Government, 9-Jun-2017
Census & Statistics Dept slides show, contrary to media and socialists' complaints, HK's income gap has narrowed. Median earned incomes of the bottom 10% rose 46.6% in 5 years, while the top 10% rose 23.6% and price inflation was 18%. Welfare payments and benefits also narrowed the gap in household and individual incomes. HK's per-person, post-tax & benefits Gini dropped from 0.431 to 0.420. Remember, Gini is also a measure of incentive. If all incomes were set by the state and equal, Gini would be zero, there would be no incentive and we would be equally poor, as China was from 1949-1979. Governments should focus on ensuring equal opportunity, not equal incomes, but with a social safety net.
Does HK's land sale system need a new lease of life?HK Land Lease Reform
South China Morning Post, 18-Apr-2017
Shirley Zhao's article covers our proposals for Land Lease Reform published on 1-Nov-2010 (at the second link). Let's hope that the new CE puts that into effect.
Webb on "Backchat" re the budget
RTHK, 23-Feb-2017
Webb on "Backchat" re tax and education
RTHK, 8-Feb-2017
Webb on "Backchat" re taxes and Trump
RTHK, 6-Oct-2016
Submission on Electronic Road Pricing
Speak out! Put market forces to work on the roads. Read our response and then tell the Government whether you agree or not. Consultation ends this Friday, 18-Mar-2016. (12-Mar-2016)
'Another wasted opportunity' - David Webb on the budget
Harbour Times, 25-Feb-2016
Webb on "Money Talk" reviewing the HK budget
RTHK, 25-Feb-2016
HK Govt to teach grandma to suck eggs
Webb on "Backchat" re HK's tax system
RTHK, 4-Feb-2016
Webb on "Backchat" re the Exchange Fund and the structural tax surplus
RTHK, 4-Nov-2015
Webb on "Backchat" re John Tsang's dishwasher
RTHK, 28-Oct-2015
Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning releases Phase Two Report
HK Government, 2-Mar-2015
Webb on "Backchat" re budget
RTHK, 26-Feb-2015
Government announces new assignment for Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning
HK Government, 4-Jul-2014
Seminar at UK Consulate in HK on how to minimise British taxes
Company media release, 25-Jun-2014
Now that the consulate no longer handles passport renewals, which has been transferred to the black hole of Liverpool, they have more time and/or space on their hands - but hosting a conference on how to reduce British government revenue might not be the best use of that!
Moulin Global Eyecare v Inland Revenue
HK Court of Final Appeal, 13-Mar-2014
By a majority, the CFA rules that the Government gets to keep its windfall of tax paid on fake profits reported by Moulin. Lord Robert Walker, leading the judgment, attributes the actions of the fraudulent directors to the company, and says that the company "chose not to" object to the tax within the 1 month timeframe, even though it was still being run by fraudsters at that point (and they would of course not cause the company to correct the fake profits in the filings). Justice Robert Tang Ching is the lone voice of common sense. Webb-site now calls on the Government to table legislation to correct this anomaly.
Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning releases report
HK Government, 3-Mar-2014
Webb on "Backchat" re HK Budget
RTHK, 27-Feb-2014
Webb on "Backchat" re tax & budget
RTHK, 23-Jan-2014
Double Stamp Duty: Webb to speak at CanCham, Wednesday 3-Jul
Company media release, 26-Jun-2013
Seats are still available for a breakfast organised by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce next Wednesday, at which a panel of legislators, property experts and free-market advocates will lead a discussion of the Government's proposed doubling of stamp duty, which, like the 15% "Buyer's Stamp Duty" and the higher rate and duration of "Special Stamp Duty" has not yet become law. Hit the link to sign up.
New HK$4.5bn round of indiscriminate handouts to begin in July
HK Government, 23-Jun-2013
Second submission to LegCo on DSD
This morning's session with public delegations, in which a junior civil servant was fielded, leaves a number of fundamental policy questions to be answered by the principal officials. Here they are. (13-Jun-2013)
Avoiding double stamp duty
A HK$1.6bn deal announced yesterday neatly demonstrates how the proposed Double Stamp Duty will drive higher-end transactions into the corporate transfer market, while freezing up the low end with prohibitive taxation. We'll be speaking against DSD in LegCo tomorrow. (12-Jun-2013)
Government announces appointments to Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning
HK Government, 11-Jun-2013
The dividend tax myth
We correct the Financial Secretary's latest gaffe and explain why a further tax on corporate profits in the form of a dividend tax would necessitate a steeper salaries tax, a capital gains tax, a tax on worldwide investment income and ultimately a loss of economic output and revenue. It is a myth that dividends are tax-free. (5-Mar-2013)
Webb on "Backchat" re the budget
RTHK, 28-Feb-2013
Double stamp duty
We explain the fallacy in the proposed so-called "demand-side" measures announced on Friday. Higher transaction costs reduce volumes, not prices, and affect both buyers and sellers. We ask whether this is really worth trashing HK's reputation as a free and open economy and what this meddling is trying to achieve. (25-Feb-2013)
The alternative Budget Speech, 2013: Prosperity through Reform
Webb-site reveals the Hong Kong Budget Speech which should be delivered next Wednesday. (22-Feb-2013)
Webb on "Backchat" re sale of hotel suites, and fiscal reserves
RTHK, 21-Feb-2013
BSD and SSD 2.0 - submission to LegCo Bills Committee on Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 2012
We dissect the proposed Buyer's Stamp Duty and increase and expansion of Special Stamp Duty on residential properties in HK. Government replies to Webb-site reveal that they don't actually have data to support the discrimination between Permanent Residents and Non-PRs, even if the duty were constitutional, which it is not. (5-Feb-2013)
Gods should not pay stamp duty - churches oppose BSD
HK Legislative Council, 22-Jan-2013
Webb on "Backchat" re BSD and SSD 2.0
RTHK, 30-Oct-2012
Some-Buyer's Stamp Duty
We examine HK's proposed discriminatory stamp duty on companies and non-permanent residents who buy residential property, its questionable constitutionality, its negative impacts on social harmony and the redevelopment market, and the proposed SSD 2.0. (30-Oct-2012)
Help the needy, not the needless
We price the proposed Old Age Living Allowance if means-testing is scrapped to make it a universal pension, and what it would mean for tax rates down the road to a welfare state. We show you the increasingly educated and affluent profile of future retirees, and call on Government to refocus on a better, properly means-tested and rebranded elderly CSSA system. We also look at the $2 fare scheme, another scattergun attempt at welfare. (12-Oct-2012)
HK land for HK xenophobes
We explain why the proposed "HK land for HK people" scheme, while superficially appealing to voters, won't work, and we again propose measures to make the housing and tax system simpler and fairer, including elimination of stamp duty and mortgage interest deductions, and land lease reform to open the market and lower the premiums on new leases. (6-Sep-2012)
New HK$4.5bn round of indiscriminate handouts to begin in July
HK Government, 26-Jun-2012
Frieda Tong Shen v Yeung Tsz Ying & others
HK Court of First Instance, 12-Jun-2012
This case shows, as Webb-site predicted, that people can avoid the punitive Special Stamp Duty by selling the companies which have contracted to purchase properties (in this case, at SHKP's Imperial Cullinan), rather than selling the properties themselves. See para 12 of the judgment.
Webb on "Backchat" re HK Budget
RTHK, 2-Feb-2012
A class act for those caught in the middle
HK Standard, 2-Feb-2012
Alvin Lee Chi Wing, chairman of "Voice of the Middle Class" said he pays almost HK$100k in salaries tax (before the Budget) on a household income of $60k per month (that's $720k per year). We doubt it: he gets married person's allowance of $216k, child allowance of $60k and allowances for supporting his parents of $72k. So we estimate his total allowances were $348k, and tax on the remaining $360k was $49,200.
BoCom's bonus-share tax hit
BoCom (3328) found a nasty wrinkle in China's taxes that resulted in an effective 60% tax rate on its final dividend, because of a tax on bonus shares. Webb-site calls on the Chinese Government to clarify its tax treatment of bonus issues so that there will be no withholding tax, because they are not a distribution of value. Further, it would be better and fairer to abolish the distortive dividend withholding tax and raise corporate tax rates instead. (29-Sep-2011)
HK$4.5bn of indiscriminate handouts to begin in July
HK Government, 28-Jun-2011
Nice Cheer Investment Ltd v Commissioner of Inland Revenue
HK Court of First Instance, 28-Jun-2011
The appellant is owned by Nan Fung Development tycoon Chen Din Hwa. The judge rules that unrealised profits on trading stock are not taxable profits.
Arrangement for First Registration Tax of Private Cars
HK Government, 15-Jun-2011
Reforming HK Markets - the Political Realities
A presentation by David Webb to the FIX Protocol conference. (25-May-2011)
Submission to Bills Committee of Legislative Council on Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2011
Webb-site editor David Webb will attend the Bills Committee meeting at 2.30pm on 12-May-2011. This is our submission. (6-May-2011)
Traffic Truths
The Government's budget proposal on private car First Registration Tax is based on a false premise, and will not achieve its stated objective of congestion reduction. Our research shows that despite higher ownership, private cars occupy less of the roadspace than they did in 2000. We call for a fundamental review of road transport policy and make proposals to achieve a reduction in congestion and road traffic pollution. (13-Apr-2011)
Webb on "Backchat" re property
RTHK, 12-Apr-2011
Webb on "Backchat" re universal pension
RTHK, 24-Mar-2011
David Webb's 4th submission to LegCo on proposed Special Stamp Duty
The cost of a universal pension
Following Jim Walker's guest article today, we run the numbers to show why a universal pension would put HK on the road to fiscal hell, a high-tax European-style welfare state. The ageing population means a HK$6k per month pension in 2039 would imply at least a 35% tax rate, and probably higher as mobile profits and professionals leave. Even 13 years from now, tax rates would rise to at least 28.5% to balance the budget. (12-Mar-2011)
Universal pensions in HK: the case against
In a guest contribution, economist Jim Walker lays out the case against calls for a universal pension in HK, including the lessons from history of the European welfare state. (12-Mar-2011)
Now withdraw the SSD proposal
Latest disclosures show that the increase in short-term resales from 2009 to 2010 was only 1.9% of transactions, and fewer than 1 in 5 are in that category. Having abandoned one unpopular budget measure this week already, the Government should now do the right thing and abandon the Special Stamp Duty proposal. It is illegitimate, unconstitutional, creates too many unintended victims and runs the risk of chaos upon a successful judicial review. (2-Mar-2011)
Reforming Salaries Tax
The budget was devoid of any structural reform to public finances. In our first article in a series, Webb-site fills the void with a proposal to reform Salaries Tax to make it a simpler, fairer and flat tax. (24-Feb-2011)
Webb on "Backchat" re budget
RTHK, 24-Feb-2011
With Ronald Arculli, Ronny Tong Ka-wah (the Two Ronnies) and Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong.
HKEx welcomes iBonds, hopes to list them
Company media release, 23-Feb-2011
It would be nice if the bonds were actually admitted to CCASS and traded on the stock exchange, rather than the phoney "listings" that all the existing Government bonds have, where there is no trading on HKEx and retail investors are held captive by the banks in the over-the-counter market.
SSD, the Basic Law, and a lesson from Singapore
The Government has responded to LegCo on our concerns that the proposed Special Stamp Duty is unconstitutional. We go further in this article, explaining why SSD would not be a legitimate tax protected by Basic Law Article 108. We'll also look at the lesson in political reality from Singapore's 1996-97 experiment, and we propose a fairer, focused alternative, in the form of a withholding system for profits tax. (30-Jan-2011)
Webb on "Backchat" re special stamp duty & other property issues
RTHK, 18-Jan-2011
Prepared remarks of David Webb appearing in LegCo on Special Stamp Duty
Hong Kong should halt new property stamp duty, let bubble burst, Webb says
Bloomberg, 4-Jan-2011
LegCo invites submissions on Special Stamp Duty
HK Legislative Council, 21-Dec-2010
Submit your views to LegCo! David Webb will attend the meeting on 4-Jan at 4.30pm.
Webb-site submission to LegCo on Special Stamp Duty
HK Legislative Council, 14-Dec-2010
Webb on "Backchat" debating Special Stamp Duty with Government
RTHK, 6-Dec-2010
Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2010
HK Gazette, 3-Dec-2010
Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2010 to be gazetted this Friday
HK Government, 1-Dec-2010
Government criticises Stamp Duty proposal
In a case of policy schizophrenia, the Government said a special stamp duty would be unfair, cause additional hardship to those in financial difficulties, and amount to double taxation. Then they proposed it anyway, based on a bunch of selective, deceptive and alarmist statistics, which we dissect. Legislators should kill this proposal or at least insert a sunset clause so that it expires with Donald Tsang's office. Exceptional times do not call for irrational measures. (26-Nov-2010)
Webb on "Backchat" re special stamp duty and mortgage limits
RTHK, 23-Nov-2010
The Community Collusion Fund
We look at the numerous problems with Donald Tsang's proposed Community Care Fund. The boards of listed companies which support it either expect sufficient corporate benefit in return or are breaching their fiduciary duties. We call on Legislators to kill the CCF by vetoing the HK$5bn allocation and instead get the government to reform its welfare system using the normal budgetary process. (4-Nov-2010)
Hong Kong Land Lease Reform, Part 2
We advocate a rebalancing of HK's land lease system, reducing up-front premiums in exchange for a perpetual stream of future ground rents and addressing a number of festering problems simultaneously. We also suggest a Premium Release Scheme to return hoarded capital to the market, and PRS Bonds or HIPS (HK Income Protected Securities) to help finance it, providing a new long-term investment option for retirement funds. (1-Nov-2010)
Hong Kong Land Lease Reform, Part 1
In the first of a two-part article, we examine the 169-year history of lease tenures in HK, which ended up with a high-premium low-rent land lease policy with relatively short leases. It wasn't always this way, but before making the case for change, we explain the historical context. (7-Oct-2010)
HK's stamp duty addiction
We look at the HK Government's opium-like addiction to stamp duty revenues, which have more than quintupled in 7 years. The budget asks for another fix. Stamp duty is sand in the wheels of the economy, distorting economic decisions and reducing economic output. It should be abolished rather than increased further. Higher stamp duty does not improve property affordability. HK needs a root-and-branch review of taxation to refocus on fair taxation of GDP rather than one-off measures and distortive policies. (2-Mar-2010)
The Christmas Pick
After a decade of Christmas Picks, has produced a compound gain of 1118%, compared with 87% on the Hang Seng Index. That's an average 28.4% per year compared with 6.4% on the HSI. This is getting out of hand! Many have asked whether we would set up a "Good Governance Fund" for HK investors. We tell you why this is currently unattractive, and what the Government should do to facilitate the closed-end fund sector. (18-Dec-2009)
Webb on "Backchat" re HK budget
RTHK, 26-Feb-2009
CE shelves means-testing of Higher Old Age Allowance, raises it to HK$1,000/m
HK Government, 24-Oct-2008
That's a 41.8% increase from $705/m over-70, regardless of wealth, and a 60% increase from $625/m for those aged 65-69 (who remain means-tested on application).
CE floats means-testing of OAA & raising it to $1,000/m in policy address
HK Government, 15-Oct-2008
As proposed, existing recipients will not be affected, i.e. over-70s who have already applied for OAA can stay on the current rate without means-testing.
CE announces one-off handouts
HK Government, 16-Jul-2008
Webbon "Backchat" re HK budget
RTHK, 29-Feb-2008
Lights, camera...budget!
We look at the recent history of HK Government intervention in the movie industry, the land grants involved, and the proposal to throw HK$300m of public money into private movie production. We urge LegCo to cut this scene from Hong Kong's script. Tell them what you think in our opinion poll. (9-Mar-2007)
Webb on "Backchat" re HK budget
RTHK, 1-Mar-2007
Webb on "Backchat" re infrastructure & alcohol duty
RTHK, 7-Feb-2007
The Housing Lark
Why does the HK Government continue prosecuting civil servants and educators for maximising their remuneration by claiming rental allowances which, if they didn't own the property, they would be entitled to anyway? Surely people should be paid what they are worth to an employer, not based on what they own. We also look at the tax loophole which incentivises rental allowances in the first place. (9-Dec-2006)
Webb on "Backchat" re West Kowloon single-developer approach being dropped, and the budget
RTHK, 22-Feb-2006
Webb on "Backchat" re land sale system in HK
RTHK, 29-Sep-2005
Tax Benefits
One big tax loophole that the Government left open in today's budget is the Housing Loophole - as a result, Hong Kong taxes people not on the basis of how much they are paid, but how they are paid. A person who would otherwise reach the top rate of 16% can cut that to just 6.87%, with the employer's co-operation. We take you through the numbers. (10-Mar-2004)

Sign up for our free newsletter

Recommend Webb-site to a friend

Copyright & disclaimer, Privacy policy

Back to top