Chinese Microentrepreneurs May Get Legal Licenses!


Fry Tofu Seller in Beijing

Happy Fry Tofu Seller in Beijing

China’s State Council just issued a draft ordinance that allows street vendors and other microentrepreneurs to register for permits and recruit employees legally. The draft ordinance, titled “Individual and Household Business Ordinance (Draft)” / “个体工商户条例(征求意见稿)“, will allow micro-enterprises to get access to loans from alternative sources such as small loan companies and village banks.

Previous requirements only allow business to be registered at its place of operation, which is impossible for street vendors and hawkers. Under the draft ordinance, entrepreneurs would be able to register their business under their place of domicile, no matter where they operate. The permission to register will be delegated to the local State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

If registered as a “personal business,” the person and his/her personal assets will be liable for the business. If it is registered as a “household business,” then the entire household, including the household’s assets are liable for the business.

According to statistics from China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce, individual and household business registrations have been raising rapidly. In the first quarter of this year, there were 1.5 million newly registered individual and household businesses, a 28% increase year on year. As of March 2009, there are 29.5 million individual and household businesses registered in China, which employs roughly 58.1 million people in total.

The individual and household businesses will be allowed to engage in various industries, including wholesale, retail, hospitality, food and beverage, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, post, agriculture, fishery, animal husbandry, construction, mining, and services.

Under the proposed draft ordinance, individual and household business will also be able to recruit employees legally. In the past, these businesses were only allowed to have one to two assistants or three to five apprentices if skilled labor is involved. Such measures would help migrant laborers get employed at small and micro-businesses with some protection.

Along with the proposed ordinance, there is a stipulation that no one can collect “management fees” or “bazaar fees” from individual and household businesses. Associations fees are allowed as long as it is voluntary. I wonder if this clause is included to snub existing extortion that commonly affect street and market vendors.

Yet not all of it is rosy. Along with registration, is responsibilities: taxes. After microentrepreneurs register they must also keep proper books and file for taxes like other businesses. Or else, fines can range from 100 to 1,000 RMB.

More information on the ordinance, in Chinese, can be found here.

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  1. Alex says:

    I’m interested that such non-tax-paying micro-enterprises have boomed over the past year, as I was under the impression many of them were the result of de-employment over the 90s and early 00s from large SOEs, with concessions made to newly unemployed workers that they needn’t pay business taxes if they employed themselves?

    As long as registration remains a choice, rather than a requirement, this sounds like an excellent policy initiative.

    And the tax office will be happy with a new source of revenue/enforcement no doubt, given the plummeting receipts in H1 this year.

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