The Beatles were so aggrieved at their tax bill that they penned the song, Taxman (“If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat/ If you try to walk/ I’ll tax your feet.”). That same spirit of “one for you, nineteen for me” seems to have pervaded Hebei province in recent weeks. According to the Beijing News, tax officials have been raiding small and medium-sized firms to raise cash to balance the municipal books.
The most creative ploy seemed to have been cooked up in the township of Xianxian. The newspaper spoke to Li Jianguo who said he and other business owners had been called to the local tax office to pay ‘patriotic tax’. The companies were told by the tax bureau chief that the People’s Daily had published an editorial about disputed islands in the East China Sea. The official said that, based on his experience, war with Japan was just around the corner so he hoped all present would pay ‘advance taxes’ to support their country. The Beijing News was aghast. It reports that the central government has sent out repeat notices forbidding such arbitrary taxes, but the newspaper admits the order seems to be lost on many more junior officials at county and township level, who levy them regardless.
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