(Yicai Global) Nov. 15 -- Shanghai's tax rebates for non-residents leaving the country increased nearly 50 percent annually over the first 10 days of this month, as entrepreneurs at the first ever China International Import Expo used their free time to shop around the city.
Foreigners and residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan who reside in Shanghai for less than six months are eligible to get back 11 percent on purchases of more than CNY500 (USD72) in a single day at certain stores, according to a tax policy for foreign tourists that came into play in July 2015.
After learning about the tax refund at the CIIE, a Chinese expo exclusively for imports, many overseas visitors chose to spend time shopping, Li Minghong, chief financial officer of Qingpu Bailian Outlets Plaza, told Yicai Global. Based near the National Exhibition and Convention Center, which hosted the CIIE, the plaza has issued 82 application forms for departure refunds so far this month, nearly 32 percent more than the same period last year, he added.
"As well as visiting the CIIE, I went shopping at the Qingpu outlet," one Italian merchant said. "The 11 percent tax rebate puts prices on par with duty free shops, so I bought a lot -- it was a great experience."
Shanghai has added 48 new rebate stores since June, including popular brands like Lego and DJI. Shanghai Village, a shopping mall favored by foreign tourists, is also among them.
In order to make the rebates easier to handle, the local tax authority published an operations guide and designed QR codes that tourists could scan to find participating stores and learn how to obtain their refunds, a source at the Shanghai tax office told Yicai Global.
The city has handled rebate applications from more than 50,000 tourist since the policy came in, with the value of goods sold surpassing CNY900 million (USD130 million) and the amount of tax refunded exceeding CNY80 million.
Editor: James Boynton