A new tax app released by the Chinese government has triggered confusion among its users as they find themselves listed as employees of unfamiliar companies, while others have stumbled upon a raft of suspicious copycat apps.

The app, released by China’s State Taxation Administration at the end of 2018, is intended to ease the process of filing information.

While the launch of the app has seen some technical difficulties, it’s part of a larger trend of Chinese government services going mobile. Widely adopted social platform WeChat has previously been a favored tool of authorities, enabling QR code tax payment pilot programs to be rolled out in multiple provinces last month. Previously, the government in eastern China’s Shandong province had already enabled taxpayers to use WeChat, while Guangdong authorities allowed for payments via mobile payment platform Alipay as well as WeChat.

According to The Paper, one netizen filed an online complaint on the app after having Anhui Normal University listed as an employer. “I have never held a position in any department of Anhui Normal University,” the publication cites him as writing in the Jan.1 filing. On Wednesday, he received notice that the issue had been resolved.

The tax administration in the southern autonomous region of Guangxi said that users might be wrongfully listed as employees at unknown companies because a user’s identifying information could have been stolen by a third party and used to help evade corporate income tax.

It also said an enterprise might have dealt with the app user before and erroneously listed them as an employee. Alternatively, a former employer may have neglected to update their information after a worker left the company.

Another case involved a Weibo user by the handle of Asaikana, who said in early January that he had been listed as the employee by a company he’d never heard of. Later, however, he discovered that it was simply a logistical mixup. The “employer” was a third-party HR company hired to process his payment after he took on a part-time writing job.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity firm 360 Security identified 62 apps posing as the official tax filing app. Some of the apps included hidden fees, various types of advertising, and the risk of leaking personal information.

Outside of taxes, Beijing’s Traffic Management Bureau said in October last year it would eliminate long waits by allowing residents to pay traffic fines online with either major payment service. Also, last September Jiangsu province began allowing couples to apply for digital marriage licenses through Alipay.

Bailey Hu

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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