Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said the government would aim for “tax justice and fairness,” but refused to be pinned down when asked by legislators for details.
When asked by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Chen-chang (賴振昌) to elaborate on the section on tax reform in his written policy address, Jiang said that tax reform would be based on the principle of “imposing higher taxes on higher-income groups to expand deductions for salaried workers.”
“We hope to use the wealth of the rich to help the poor. Tax justice and fairness are the underlying principles behind the reform proposal,” Jiang said at the opening of the new legislative session.
In his written report, Jiang mentioned the possibility of adjusting outdated tax provisions, citing as examples business and income taxes — including the integrated income tax system, which he said goes against the international trend — to significantly increase special deductions for salaried workers and people with disabilities.
Lai praised the direction of the government proposal and encouraged Jiang to proceed with his plan to reform the tax system during an election year.
However, Jiang appeared reluctant to reveal details of the reform proposal when he was later asked by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) whether the Executive Yuan was considering raising or lowering business taxes.
Jiang said he had read the proposal drafted by the Ministry of Finance, which suggested adjusting the business tax for banking institutions.
“I would rather let the Ministry of Finance explain in detail at an appropriate time,” he said.
Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) told Gao that there was no room to further lower the business tax for banking institutions since it was cut to 2 percent from 5 percent in 1999, implying that the ministry might raise the rate.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊櫻) said Jiang should not consider raising business taxes as this could put the nation’s economic recovery at risk.
Jiang was scheduled to start his policy report at the legislature at 10am yesterday, but it was delayed until 3pm as TSU lawmakers blocked his report in protest against the government’s planned changes to high-school course guidelines.
Jiang delivered his policy address amid sporadic chaos, as several KMT legislators tried to stop three TSU lawmakers from moving closer to the podium to display posters with slogans against the new curriculum guidelines that read “historical distortion, brainwashing the Taiwanese public” among others.
The TSU lawmakers staged the protest after the KMT rejected their demands at a negotiation meeting earlier yesterday that the guidelines should be reversed.
During the question-and-answer session, Jiang was also asked by DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) to consider granting former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is in prison on corruption charges, medical parole in view of his failing health.
The Taichung Veterans General Hospital released a diagnosis statement on Tuesday recommending that Chen be sent home for care.
Jiang was noncommittal, saying he would instruct the Ministry of Justice to review the case in accordance with related regulations.
Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said that the former president might not receive better care at home in terms of medical equipment for his subsequent treatment.