* CCTV had reported billions were owed in unpaid land taxes
* Hua Yuan president says considers legal action
* Bloggers critical toward CCTV reports
By Anne Marie Roantree and Kazunori Takada
HONG KONG/SHANGHAI, Nov 26 China's state tax
bureau said on Tuesday a legal misunderstanding was behind the
tussle between property developers and China Central Television
(CCTV) after the state broadcaster reported that the firms owe
massive sums in unpaid land taxes.
State Administration of Taxation did not directly name CCTV
but said "estimates" of huge amounts of unpaid land appreciation
taxes were not accurate.
"This is a misunderstanding and misreading of tax policies
and the way taxes are levied. China has in recent years
gradually stepped up the levy of land appreciation taxes," it
said in a statement on its official Weibo blog.
Listed property developers, including China Vanke
and Gemdale Corp, all named in a CCTV
report that aired on Sunday, denied claims they were among firms
that avoided paying as much as 3.8 trillion yuan ($624 billion)
in taxes due.
Property firms said the report was based on confusion
between provisions in their accounts for future tax bills and
actual tax payments already made.
The president of one of the companies, Hua Yuan Property
Company Ltd's Ren Zhiqiang, said in a posting on an
Internet microblogging site that he was considering whether to
pursue legal action against the broadcaster.
Officials at CCTV did not respond to a request for comment
when contacted by Reuters.
CCTV has attracted attention internationally this year, with
reports that previously targeted global companies operating in
China, including Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co
Ltd over quality and service issues, and Starbucks
Corp over pricing.
The row comes as home prices in large Chinese cities have
set records, despite a four-year long government campaign to
cool the property market, raising concerns over a potential
In the broadcast that aired on Sunday, CCTV cited
calculations by a Beijing-based lawyer, Li Jinsong, as showing
45 listed property firms were among developers that should have
paid more than 4.6 trillion yuan in land taxes from 2005 to
2012. According to the calculations, authorities collected 800
billion yuan for the period.
Fitch Ratings said in a report on Monday that land taxes
payable in future aren't a major concern for the Chinese
property developers on which it issues ratings.
"The payables arise from the timing gap between when
property is delivered and taxes are paid, and the practices of
developers in this regard are normal and consistent in China,"
the ratings agency said.
An overwhelming number of bloggers on Sina Weibo were also
critical of the CCTV report on property developers.
"CCTV publicly denounced the property companies owing land
appreciation tax of 380 billion yuan without even making clear
the facts themselves, which reflected not only ignorance, but
also arrogance and hostility," wrote Gao Ping.
Some of CCTV's programmes have been criticised by bloggers
in China as being unfair or inaccurate.