The article analyzes the current legal regulation of the environmental protection tax in the People’s Republic of China, as well as its importance in the context of reforming the environmental legislation of China. The environmental problem makes it necessary to take large-scale measures to change the situation in the country, while improving the provisions of tax law is an important mechanism. The article draws conclusions on the prevalence of the regulatory function of the environmental protection tax introduced in 2018 over its fiscal function. The study of the elements of taxation reveals a number of internal contradictions inherent in the Law of the PRC on environmental protection tax. Special attention is paid to the consequences of changing the legal regime of environmental pollution payments, which was previously recognized by the legislator as a non-tax public payment, not a tax.