Sat, Dec 06, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Activists challenge trade groups on tax

SHOW ME THE MONEYWang Jung-chang, convener of the Alliance for Fair Tax Reform, challenged the business community to join a public debate on the taxation system

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Alliance for Fair Tax Reform (AFTR) yesterday challenged the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China (ROCCOC) and the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI) — both advocates of a tax reform that the alliance considers unfair — to a public debate.

“Large corporations have been advocating tax cuts, saying that tax cuts would save their businesses and help them invest more to turnaround the economy,” alliance convener Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋) told reporters outside the building in Taipei where the ROCCOC and CNFI headquarters are located, while delivering an invitation to the debate to the two organizations.

“A bill to reduce the inheritance tax to 10 percent has already passed [the initial review] in the legislature,” Wang said. “But have these business leaders made any concrete investment plans?”

The tax laws state that inheritance tax may be as much as 50 percent of the value of inherited assets.

Lin Lu-hung (林綠紅), a member of Taiwan Women’s Link, voiced her concern that the tax breaks would result in a cut in welfare spending.

“Since President Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] took office on May 20, the government has introduced several tax break programs that will lead to a NT$120 billion [US$3.5 billion] loss in annual tax revenues,” Lin said. “I don’t know how this gap will be filled, but this will certainly impact on the government’s welfare spending.”

Chen Poh-chien (陳柏謙), from Youth Labor Union 95, expressed concern that the revenue gap would worsen the national debt, “which we, the younger generation, will have to shoulder in the future.”

AFTR figures show that the national debt has reached NT$13.8 trillion, while the Ministry of Finance’s figures released last month showed only a NT$4.3 billion debt.

“We would like to invite the ROCCOC and CNFI to debate with us in public,” Wang said. “Tell us how much money you’re making, how much tax you’re paying and whether you’re paying the same taxes as ordinary wage earners.”

Representatives from the two business groups accepted the invitations, but the two groups are not likely to join any debate.

“We won’t do anything about it [the invitation],” a high-ranking ROCCOC official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Taipei Times by telephone.

“If they have something to say about tax reform they should tell the Tax Reform Commission — after all, it’s the government, not us, that will make the final decision,” the official said.

A CNFI spokesman surnamed Liu said the group respected everybody’s right to comment on the issue, but “would not likely take part” in the debate, as the group has no decision-making powers.

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