The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and Tamkang High School protested yesterday against the Tamsui Township Office’s decision to tax the school on a newly completed school building.
Albert Yao (姚聰榮), principal of the school founded by missionary George Leslie Mackay, told a press conference that the township office had charged them “construction site tax” since June 12, 2007.
Yao said the school began construction of the building in 2006 — a year before the implementation of the new tax regulation — and it had been surprised to receive a tax bill for NT$1.08 million (US$31,000) following the building’s inauguration last April.
“This is the first tax bill the school has ever received since its foundation in 1872. The school also became the first private school in Taiwan ever be to taxed,” Yao said.
He said although the office’s decision was in line with the Autonomous Act Regulating the Tamsui Township’s Temporary Construction Tax (淡水鎮建築工地臨時稅自治條例), it was unreasonable and that related tax regulations such as the Land Tax Act (土地稅法) granted schools nationwide tax exemption status.
The township office had the court collect the NT$1.08 million from a school bank account on Nov. 27 last year after the school refused to pay, Yao said.
Yao said the school given up hope of recovering the money, which was earmarked for student loans, but hoped to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
“The local government [township office] took away the school’s educational resources by force and sacrificed students’ rights,” a church press release said.
In response, Mayor Tsai Yeh-wei (蔡葉偉), an alumnus of the school, said he regretted the school’s protest, adding that he executed the decision in accordance with the law.