Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Cabinet delayed law to lower land tax, ministry says

NO PROGRESS Finance Minister Lin Chuan said yesterday that a proposal to permanently lower land taxes has been stuck at the Cabinet level for months

By Joyce Huang and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A disagreement between the Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance may have contributed to the delay in proposing a measure to permanently lower land-value incremental tax rates, which may prevent it receiving the legisla-ture's approval before the end of the year.

Finance Minister Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday told the legislature that the Executive Yuan is to blame for the delay since his ministry already in October submitted the proposal to cut the tax's top rate from 60 percent to 40 percent in October.

"I've tried to rush the Cabinet to submit the amended draft for a legislative review so as to complete its promulgation before year's end. But I haven't received any response yet," Lin told the legislature's Finance Committee.

Lin said that he hoped the Cabinet would deliver the amen-ded version of the Land Tax Law (土地稅法) to the Legislative Yuan for review "as early as next Wednesday."

Since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had previously vowed to permanently halve the land value incremental tax, Lin yesterday said that the Cabinet may be revising his ministry's land-tax proposal so as to permanently halve the tax rate.

If the Cabinet fails to deliver the amended draft to the legislature for review before next week, it is likely that the land tax may continue at the original rates, set at 60 percent, 40 percent and 20 percent in February after the current reduction measure expires in mid January next year, several pan-blue lawmakers said yesterday.

The lawmakers pointed out that the legislature made a resolution last December to extend the reduction in the tax to January next year, and at the same time demanded the Ministry of Finance to review and revise the Land Tax Law within one year.

Among these are Chinese Nationalist Party lawmakers Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教), Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) and Luo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄), and People First Party lawmakers Norman Yin (殷乃平), Lee Tung-hao (李桐豪) and Christine Liu (劉憶如).

The Cabinet had been negligent in not reviewing the law, the lawmakers said, and despite the ministry sending an amended version for the Cabinet's approval in September, the Cabinet had not done anything about it and assumed that the lawmakers would agree to extend the reduction measure.

"If the Executive Yuan sends in the amended version now, we still have time to review it in this session. Otherwise we may demand the government gather the full tax again after the reduction period expires on Jan. 17 next year," Yin said.

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