This set of tax and short-term relief measures, together with other spending initiatives in the Budget, will have a fiscal stimulus effect of boosting gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017 by 1.1 per cent. One-off relief measures include:
- Reducing salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for 2016-17 by 75 per cent, subject to a ceiling of $20,000. This proposal will benefit 1.84 million taxpayers and reduce government revenue by $16.4 billion;
- Reducing profits tax for 2016-17 by 75 per cent, subject to a ceiling of $20,000. This proposal will benefit 132 000 taxpayers and reduce government revenue by $1.9 billion;
- Waiving rates for four quarters of 2017-18, subject to a ceiling of $1,000 per quarter for each rateable property. This proposal will benefit 3.21 million properties and reduce government revenue by $10.9 billion; and
- Providing extra allowances to social security recipients and other allowance and subsidy recipients. This will involve an additional expenditure of about $3.5 billion. Similar arrangements will apply to the Low-income Working Family Allowance and the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy, involving an additional expenditure of about $100 million.
In addition to the above one-off measures, the Financial Secretary also proposes, after taking into account the Government’s fiscal position in the short to medium term, the following five recurrent tax measures starting from 2017-18 so as to relieve the burden on taxpayers:
- Widening the marginal bands for salaries tax to $45,000. This measure will reduce the tax burden of 1.3 million taxpayers and reduce tax revenue by $1.5 billion a year;
- Raising the disabled dependant allowance to $75,000. This measure will benefit 35 000 taxpayers and reduce tax revenue by $50 million a year;
- Raising the dependent brother/sister allowance to $37,500. This measure will benefit 23 800 taxpayers and reduce tax revenue by $13 million a year;
- Extending the entitlement period for the tax reduction for home loan interest to 20 years of assessment. This proposal will reduce tax revenue by $430 million a year; and
- Raising the deduction ceiling for self-education expenses to $100,000. This measure will benefit 3 500 taxpayers and reduce tax revenue by $8 million a year.
The tourism industry, which makes up 5 per cent of GDP and employs about 270 000 people, has been driving the growth of other related industries including retail, hotel and catering industries, and contributing significantly to Hong Kong’s economy. The Financial Secretary announced a number of initiatives to boost the tourism industry, including the following three short-term measures:
- waiving the licence fees for 1 800 travel agents for one year;
- waiving the licence fees for over 2 000 hotels and guesthouses for one year; and
- waiving the licence fees for restaurants and hawkers and fees for restricted food permits for one year, benefiting 27 000 restaurants and operators.