Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) must explain his tax payments to the Ministry of Finance within the next two weeks, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday, after they reported Ma for alleged tax evasion.
DPP Legislator Chiu Chuang-chin (邱創進) and his two colleagues called a press conference where they accused Ma of tax evasion in the legislature after visiting Minister of Finance Ho Chih-chin (何志欽).
Ma, under investigation for allegedly embezzling money from his "special allowance fund," has said that his personal fortune is the result of his family's high savings rate, which he said averaged up to 70 percent of his and his wife's monthly salaries.
This explanation, however, was called into question by DPP lawmakers.
"In 1999, the savings of Ma and his wife increased by NT$13.35 million [US$405,282], which meant that they saved NT$445,000 per month. Which is really strange, because that amount is higher than the combined monthly salary of Ma and his wife," DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said.
Tsai demanded that Ma explain how he and his wife had rapidly accumulated such a fortune even as they paid for their two daughters' living expenses and tuition fees in the US, each costing at least NT$2 million a year.
When he previously responded to embezzlement allegations, Ma said that the portion of the special allowance fund he wired into his account was spent on donations to charity groups. Chiu said that he suspected the purpose of the donations was for Ma to gain tax exemptions.
"It would be illegal for Ma to gain large tax breaks because of his donations from the special allowance fund, as the fund is supposed to be spent on public affairs," Chiu said.