Coal taxation reform in China and its distributional effects on residential consumers

Peer Reviewed
24 February 2020

Ping Qin, Peilin Chen, Xiao-bing Zhang, Lunyu Xie

There is an ongoing reform in coal taxation in China, from a quantity-based to a price-based approach. While the coal tax could play an important role in resource conservation and air pollution reduction, its distributional effect is not well studied. This paper investigates the distributional effect of China's coal taxes on households before and after the reform. We find that about 30 percent of rural households and six percent of urban households are directly affected by the coal taxes, and that the directly affected households tend to be poor. We also find that provinces are affected differently by the coal taxes; the provinces that are more affected tend to have lower household income. By the Suits Index, we find that both the quantity-based and price-based coal taxes are regressive for residential consumers in China, and that the coal taxation reform had little effect on the regressivity of the coal tax. By simulation, we find that the regressivity of the coal tax could be reduced if the tax rate were set to be positively correlated with provincial household income.

Publication | 2 April 2021