Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Diane Lee rebuts DPP accusations over US income tax

By Rich Chang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安), the lawmaker at the center of a storm of controversy over whether she has retained US citizenship during her 14 years as a politician, yesterday rebutted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus accusations that she paid income tax in the US, saying what she had actually paid was property tax.

The DPP caucus yesterday publicized a US government document obtained from a Web site showing what it said were details of Lee’s income tax refund for this year from the US government.

DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) told a press conference that under a US economic stimulus tax rebate proposal, any US citizen who paid income tax for last year before April 15 and whose annual income last year was less than US$75,000 could receive a basic amount of US$600 in a tax refund.

Chiu said the DPP caucus keyed Diane Lee’s social security number into the US Department of Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Web site, which showed a page indicating Lee had received a US$600 tax rebate on Friday.

Because Lee has a son under 17, she received an extra US$300 tax refund, making a total of US$900, Chiu said.

Chiu said the Web page also showed the addresses of two of Lee’s properties in the US, which also appeared in Lee’s asset report in Taiwan, proving it was a genuine document.

“While the media revealed Lee has dual citizenship in March, Lee still paid income tax to the US government around April 15, and then received a tax refund at the end of the year,” Chiu said.

“Didn’t you tell the public your US citizenship was lost the moment you became a public servant in 1994? If that was true, why should you pay income tax to the US government this year?” Chiu asked of Lee.

DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) revealed Lee’s social security number, asking Lee to dispute the number if it was not true.

DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said the document was more solid evidence of Lee’s dual citizenship, adding that the judiciary should immediately bar Lee from leaving the country and provisionally seize her properties.

Despite a US statement that Lee still possesses US citizenship, the legislature resolved on Friday not to rule on her eligibility to be a lawmaker until the US responded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) request for a more detailed nationality probe.

In response to the DPP’s accusation, Lee issued a statement yesterday afternoon, saying that she had filed property tax reports in accordance with US law and that the tax report did not prove she was a US citizen.

“Those who own real estate in the US should file property tax reports whether or not they are US citizens,” the statement said.

Lee said she had given her US tax record to the US State Department for review of loss of her US citizenship, adding that she might consider suing the DPP legislators for making the allegation.

Lee last night issued a second statement saying that she had never individually filed taxes in the US, and had only been included on her husband’s tax returns.

Asked for comment in the legislature, KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), Lee’s brother, urged the DPP to substantiate its claims. But he declined to comment on his sister’s US tax record, saying he was not her advocate.

KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said the DPP was welcome to file a lawsuit against Diane Lee if it had any evidence to substantiate its allegations.

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