15 Types of Contracts That Are Not Subject to Stamp Tax in China

Posted by Written by Qian Zhou Reading Time: 6 minutes

We highlight the 15 types of contracts in China that are not subject to stamp tax. Businesses should note these policies are subject to change. For example, after the new Stamp Tax Law comes into force on July 1, 2022, certificates and licenses shall no longer to subject to stamp tax. 

China stamp tax


Stamp tax, or stamp duty, is a tax levied in China on legal documents like contracts, certificates, and accounting books.

Rules regarding what are subject to stamp tax are primarily stipulated in the State Council’s Interim Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Stamp Tax (effective until July 1, 2022 when the new Stamp Tax Law comes into effect). Nevertheless, the State Taxation Administration (STA) has also released other more specific documents, which specify the types of contracts that are exempted from stamp tax.

Why should business care?

Although stamp duty is not a major tax for most taxpayers, compliance with China’s regulations should always be a key concern for foreign companies. Non-compliance or underpayment will result in a fine of up to 30 times tax payable. In order to avoid such a penalty and to save cost where it is possible, all businesses should have a better idea of what documentation are subject to stamp tax and what are not.

To be noted, relevant rules and provisions are not static. The tax authority may adjust some of the exemption policy based on the economic situation and the development of the society. For example, the new Stamp Tax Law, which will take effect on July 1, 2022, stipulates that certificates and licenses shall no longer to subject to stamp tax in the new regime. Businesses operating in China are suggested to pay closer attention to the ever-changing tax policies.

In this article, we will walk you through 15 types of contracts that are not subject to stamp tax, as summarized by the Tax Bureau of Beijing Chaoyang District in an article posted on their official WeChat account.

15 types of contracts that are not subject to stamp tax in China

1. Sale-and-leaseback contract

Policy basis: Notice of the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation on Stamp Duty Policies Relating to Financial Leasing Contracts (Caishui [2015] No. 144)

A sale-and-leaseback, sometimes called a sale-leaseback, is an arrangement that enables a company to sell an asset to raise capital, then lets the company lease the same asset back from the purchaser. In this way, a company can get both the capital and the asset it needs for the business operations.

According to Caishui [2015] No. 144, for sale-and-leaseback financing transactions, contracts entered into between the lessee and the lessor for sale of leased asset and repurchase of lease asset shall not be subject to stamp tax.

2. Electricity supply contract

Policy basis: Notice of the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation on Several Policies Relating to Stamp Duties (Caishui [2006] No. 162)

Stamp duties shall be levied on power sale and purchase contracts between a generator and a power grid and between two power grids (except for internal mutual power supply between all levels of power grid of the State Grid Corporation system and the China Southern Power Grid Corporation system) as per sale and purchase contracts.

However, according to Caishui [2006] No. 162, electricity supply contracts between power grids and users shall not be subject to stamp tax.

3. Loan extension contract or vouchers

Policy basis: Notice on the Interpretation and Provisions of Certain Specific Issues of Stamp Duty (Guo Shui Fa [1991] No. 155)

For a loan extension contract or other vouchers used for the loan extension business according to the credit system, if the deferred repayment is the only item specified therein, the stamp duty may be deferred.

4. Interbank lending contract

Policy basis: Notice on the Interpretation and Provisions of Certain Specific Issues of Stamp Duty (Guo Shui Fa [1991] No. 155)

Interbank lending refers to the activity of short-term funding between banks and non-bank financial institutions in accordance with the national credit system.

Any inter-bank lending contract signed under inter-bank lending term and interest rate as prescribed in the Notice of the People’s Bank of China on Issuing the Trial Measures for Interbank Lending Management ([1990] No. 62) shall not be stamped. If the contract does not meet the requirements, it shall be stamped according to the loan contract.

5. Publishing contract

Policy basis: Notice on the Interpretation and Provisions of Certain Specific Issues of Stamp Duty (Guo Shui Fa [1991] No. 155)

Publishing contracts are not vouchers that are subject to stamp tax, therefore shall not be stamped.

6. Account books of treasury businesses

Policy basis: Notice on the Interpretation and Provisions of Certain Specific Issues of Stamp Duty (Guo Shui Fa [1991] No. 155)

The account books set up by treasury business managers at various levels of the People’s Bank of China and the agencies at all levels of the specialized banks, are not documentary evidence accounted for by the bank’s own business operations, and thus shall not be subject to stamp tax.

7. Agency contract

Policy basis: Notice on the Interpretation and Provisions of Certain Specific Issues of Stamp Duty (Guo Shui Fa [1991] No. 155)

In the agency business, if the agency contract signed between the client and the agency only specifies the agency matters, authorities and responsibilities, it is not a taxable voucher and thus shall not be stamped.

8. Certain training contracts

Policy basis: Notice on Issues Concerning the Levy of Stamp Tax on Technical Contracts (Guo Shui Di Zi [1989] No.34)

The scope of technical service contracts that are subject to stamp tax includes technical service contracts, technical training contracts, and the technical intermediary contracts.

Among other, a technical training contract is a technical contract made by and between parties whereby one party entrusts the other party with technical guidance and specialized training for a specific project.

However, contracts for various vocational trainings, cultural studies, spare-time education for employees, etc. are not technical training contracts and shall not be stamped.

9. Certain subscription vouchers

Policy basis: Notice of the State Administration of Taxation on the Tax Exemption of Stamp Duty on Books, Newspapers and Periodicals Subscription Vouchers (Guo Shui Di Zi [1989] No. 142)

According to the Interim Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Stamp Duty and other relevant provisions, the subscription and distribution contract and the order documents concluded by the publishing and distribution business of books, newspapers, periodicals and audio and video products are subject to stamp tax.

However, subscription vouchers between various issuing units, or between the issuing unit and the subscribing unit or individuals, shall be temporarily exempted from stamp tax.

10. Repair order issued for sporadic processing

Policy basis: Regulations of the State Administration of Taxation on Specific Issues Concerning Stamp Tax (Guo Shui Di Zi [1988] No. 25)

The repair list issued by stores and retail departments for small processing and repair business may not be stamped.

11. Housing lease contract signed by real estate authority with individuals

Policy basis: Regulations of the State Administration of Taxation on Specific Issues Concerning Stamp Tax (Guo Shui Di Zi [1988] No. 25)

The housing lease contract signed by the real estate authority with individuals may not be stamped if the house is used for residential purpose.

12. Consignment notes issued for baggage and parcels

Policy basis: Regulations of the State Administration of Taxation on Specific Issues Concerning Stamp Tax (Guo Shui Di Zi [1988] No. 25)

Consignment notes issued for baggage and parcels undertaken to transport by rail, highway, sea, or water are exempted from stamp tax.

13. Lease contracts signed by enterprises and competent authorities

Policy basis: Regulations of the State Administration of Taxation on Specific Issues Concerning Stamp Tax (Guo Shui Di Zi [1988] No. 25)

Lease contracts signed by enterprises and competent authorities do not belong to property lease contracts and thus are exempted from stamping.

14. Certain subsidiary ledgers

Contract type: Register books, statistical books, ledger, etc. that are set up in workshops, sales offices, and warehouses that are not within the scope of accounting or are within the scope of accounting, but do not record the amount.

Policy basis: Regulations of the State Administration of Taxation on Specific Issues Concerning Stamp Tax (Guo Shui Di Zi [1988] No. 25)

Generally, apart from the account books of finance department, the subsidiary ledgers set by the department for other departments and workshops shall also be stamped.

However, if the register, statistical book, and counter book created by workshop, retail department, and warehouse are not within the accounting scope or do not record the amount although within the accounting scope, such subsidiary ledgers shall not be stamped.

15. Contracts involving development and supply of arms and weapons

Policy basis: Notice of State Taxation Bureau on Exemption of Stamp Duty on Arms and Weapons Contracts (Guo Shui Fa [1990] No. 200)

Contracts signed by military enterprises and scientific research units under the jurisdiction of the National Defense Science and Technology Commission and the military, armed police corps, public security, and national security departments for the development and supply of arms and weapons (including command, reconnaissance, and communication equipment, the same below) shall be exempted from stamp tax.

Moreover, contracts signed between various units in the military industry system under the jurisdiction of the National Defense Science and Technology Commission for the development of arms and weapons shall be exempted from stamp tax.


About Us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, and Russia, in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative. We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh.