China plans nationwide system to track real estate ownership

China plans to set up a national system to track property ownership and sales transactions in an attempt to levy a broad property tax and crack down on “government officials and others who buy and own multiple properties” despite restrictions on ownership.

Because of heavy restrictions on Chinese investing abroad, many higher-income residents have put their cash into real estate — oftentimes buying up multiple properties — which forces property values up and prices many lower-income Chinese out of the housing market.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, a property tax could address real estate speculation and the issue of empty apartments being kept off the rental market, and would give owners of spare properties more incentive to rent them out.

However, such a tax would require government officials to reveal their real estate holdings, “a move analysts say would be resisted because of the scale of illicit income and other corruption it would uncover,” a New York Times blog reported in November.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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