A new taxation of mooncakes in the Chinese workforce is causing huge controversy this autumn.
As part of a Mid-Autumn Festival tradition, employers in China are gifting their employees with mooncakes, which symbolize the roundness of the moon on the Sept. 12 holiday. Although the exchange of the Chinese pastries occur each year during the Mid-Autumn festival, this year will be a bit different.
This year a "mooncake tax" was enacted by the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau, making the pastries taxable income. With millions of mooncakes packaged for distribution, the bureau found a way to capitalize on the costly ritual that takes place each autumn.
After news reports revealed the taxing on the pastries, many Chinese people took to the social network Weibo. Little Fuxing Summer, a Weibo user, expressed frustration at the recent announcement.
"If I have to pay taxes on the mooncakes I eat, I'd rather not eat them," Summer said. "Better to just give me the money so I can buy mooncakes myself that actually taste good."
On a Sina discussion board, others were questioning the impact of the mooncake tax on other items associated with holiday rituals.
"Will we have to pay taxes on the red envelopes we give to children on Chinese New Year," one commenter question, according to The WSJ. "It won't be long before we'll be taxed just to breathe the air."
A small business owner in the Chinese city of Guangzhou explained why the people of China are offended at the tax.
"The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional time for family reunions in China. The company is just being solicitous to the employees, and even that is being targeted by the tax department," the business owner told Reuters. "It hurts people's feelings."
According to China Daily, the in-kind benefit taxation such as the one being imposed to mooncakes have been taking place for years.
"Most large companies report the in-kind benefit to the tax bureau, but many small and middle-sized companies don't," a Shandong provincial tax official said, according to the China Daily. "It's difficult for the tax bureau to police."
However, a commenter on people.com.cn said it is important the government should focus more on the happiness of their people.
"When it comes to people's feelings and a happy festival, the government needs to consider more than legal taxing," one commenter wrote on the website. "State revenue has increased faster than people's salaries this year, so it would be a way to show the authorities' concern for the people by cutting a little tax before the Mid-Autumn Festival."