Declaring Freelance Sub/Tutor Tax with an Open Work Permit & APRC

Hi guys,
I recently got my APRC and open work permit, and left my full-time job in order to travel and start looking into opening my own online business. The last 6 months I have been making money through subbing and one-on-one tutoring. My understanding was with an open work permit this is all above board (anyone heard otherwise?). Seeing as how I am paid cash for all of it, how do I declare my taxes (I want to keep to keep it above board).

What is your online business idea?

Looking at exporting ornamental things from here, teasets, incense burner, etc.

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If you give “lectures” and are paid by the hour, and you are not an employee (i.e. it’s not a guyong relationship), you should qualify for the gaofei exemption for the first $180,000 per year. I would keep track of everything even if it’s expected to be under that amount, just in case.

“Income from professional practice” (zhixing yewu) is taxed at 20% iirc, but you can deduct certain kinds of business expenses.

Ask a laywer or the tax office if in doubt.


Please add the Chinese characters.
What would one be who is subbing at various cram school or teaching English in homes and coffee shops. Also doing short term classes in corporations or government offices. I guess that is gaofei.
Is there any difference in status is your income is combined with the wife who has the full time job?

The official term for lectures in this context is 講演. (I just use “gaofei” as shorthand for the whole list of permitted activities.)


A gaofei payment is not subject to withholding tax unless it exceeds $5000.


They provide some clarification here for the gaofei category, but not for lectures.


I have seen an official interpretation regarding 講演 but can’t find it now. It was by either the Ministry of Finance or the National Taxation Bureau, and the gist was that normal teachers don’t qualify, but it wasn’t 100% clear on where to draw the line.

The Ministry of Labor has stated (separately) that the category of income (salary vs. income from professional practice) should match the category of contractual relationship (employee-employer or worker-employer relationship vs. independent contracting), iow if you’re an independent contractor you’re not receiving salary, but like I said, if in doubt ask a lawyer or the NTB.


If you’re not sure whether someone is your employer or your client, or there’s a dispute between you, your employer/client and/or a third party, it’s possible to spend years arguing about the distinction with the powers that be. They really ought to amend the law to prevent this type of situation. :2cents:

In general, going through the formalities of registration for insurance and issuing a 在職證明書, 離職證明書 or 服務證明書 identifying you as a staff member will probably make the administrative authorities see you as an employee/worker.


Income Tax Act

Article 14

Category 2:
Income from professional practice: any income of an individual from professional practice or performances after deduction of the rental for or depreciation of the place of business, depreciation of and repairing expenses for the facilities and equipment required for business, or the cost of medications, supplies, etc. sold to clients, salaries and wages for employees required for business, travelling expenses for practicing the profession and other direct and necessary expenditures, shall be the actual amount of income in this category.
Any individual engaged in professional practice shall at least keep a journal as his accounting book to provide detailed entries of all the operating revenues and expenses. For all business expenditures, documents of positive evidence shall be secured. The documents of evidence and account book shall be kept for a period of at least five years. Measures regarding the setting up, acquisition, and maintenance of the documents of evidence and account books and other related matters shall be prescribed by the Ministry of Finance.
Depreciation of buildings, facilities, and equipment used in professional practice shall be calculated in accordance with the Table of Service Life of Fixed Assets. The relevant provisions with respect to profit-seeking enterprise income tax of this Act shall be applicable, mutatis mutandis. Measures regarding the inspection of the documents of evidence, recognition of the revenues and expenses from professional practice and their account books and other related matters shall be prescribed by the Ministry of Finance.

Article 11 says who is a “practitioner of profession(執行業務者)”

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This is so complicated.
Simply put. How does one declare money from teaching inside someone’s house or coffee shop? Usually that’s a red envelope.
How does one declare money made from subbing in a cram school
Previously, this teacher had his own business but now, it is closed.
He just stared teaching a seminar to a company or government agency. He filled out the tax paperwork but no money was deducted from his pay.
I guess that is considered an independent contractor.

Regardless on how little income he makes… He files jointly with his wife who has the career job. Even with the business, his money was folded into his wife’s income. His name was only mentioned as a dependant.

I think just a journal with some details on each (daily) job and money might be able to be a record of your income. If you give each customer a receipt and keep its copy on the journal, it could be more valid. You should request and keep a paycheck for any one time contract if possible.

Even if you file jointly with your spouse, the income you get should be reported as your income. I and my husband always file jointly, but neither of us is a dependant.

I think staff at taxation office would provide professional advice for free, if your question is how to declare that kind of money.

What does “paycheck” mean. Usually a mother asks if the teacher is free. Then the teacher teaches for ninety minutes and hands the teacher a red envelope. Anything more complicated, the mother may not understand or offer the job.

Sorry, I meant paycheck stub that showing nothing is deducted. When the money comes from a government agency or company.

In the case of a red envelope, I think the least thing you can do is recording it on your journal. I’m not sure whether it is rude to give her a receipt. It would be better if you can make a contract with the mother.

Anyway, Taxation office should provide more professional and practical information to people who want to pay tax.

@tando @yyy do you have any idea of where fall money made as freelancer from foreign income under an open work permit (via gold card) ? Does that also fall under Income from professional practice with 20% tax on it, or is there any exemption / deduction for it?


Off the top of my head, I would say

  1. yes, and
  2. no, unless you qualify for that temporary tax discount for high earners that was briefly discussed in another thread, but iirc it’s for all taxable income, not specifically freelance income.

Do look into deducting business expenses, though…

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Did you ever find a solution? I work full time and tutor on the side. I haven’t kept any records though.
I was thinking of decelerating the extra as “other income” but wasn’t sure what sort of proof I would need to provide.

P.s. I have a spouse based ARC, work permit not required

2020 was the first year I had substantial private tutoring income. I just filed my taxes this morning so thought I’d share my experience.

Before I went to the tax office I wrote down my monthly income from private classes and got a total. I do keep records of this on an excel sheet. How grown adults don’t keep records of this is beyond my understanding but I’m not here to judge.

Beforehand I also made copies of my APRC, passport first page, and bank book account number, because they always ask for this.

The Taoyuan tax office was the most organized I’ve ever seen it, with many people directing traffic (both cars and people entering the building) and using color coded stickers and footprints to direct people to the correct places. I was thoroughly impressed.

I went to the normal alien tax reporting window and took a number. I waited about ten minutes.

Once I got to the tax worker it took a total of just ten minutes. She took a photocopy of my scribbled private class income figures for their records. There was no official document needed for the self-reported income, and they already had the information of my income and tax paid through the school I worked at for six months.

I’m still getting a small refund this year, but next year I’ll likely need to pay. The entire procedure was just as painless as it’s been every previous year.


My money is on having no record is best when paid in cash, especially if you have no plans to report the income.

I know a guy who used to work for a private junior high but quit just to tutor the same kids. Now he earns more in four hours a day than he did working all day at the school. Obviously, he is officially a house husband now. Cash has benefits.

Heh, yeah as I said I’m not going to judge. A little anecdote:

My friend was just rescued from the top of a mountain when he couldn’t find his way back to the trail. He was stuck there for hours, alone in the dark, until they finally found him. He and the group of 8 rescuers made the five hour descent back safely, then he was taken to the nearest place where he could eat and get some sleep.

Tax money paid for all of this, so I’m personally happy to pay it.