Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Higher taxes are protecting Yilan, COA minister says

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Stricter regulations proved effective in protecting farmland, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said on Monday in response to Yilan County acting commissioner Derek Chen’s (陳金德) criticism of a tax policy Lin implemented.

Chen was appointed acting commissioner on Nov. 6 after he resigned as CPC Corp, Taiwan chairman in response to widespread power outages on Aug. 15.

Upon taking office, Chen said he would cancel county taxes on structures built in the middle of farmland, which Lin implemented last year during his term as county commissioner.

The policy is flawed, Chen said, adding that tax revenues from the regulation should be returned to farm owners.

The COA’s regulation that farmhouses should be built on the corners of farmland or by the roadside is illegitimate, as the Agricultural Development Act (農業發展條例) does not make such a stipulation, Chen said on Saturday

The regulation is aimed at preventing further fragmenting of farmland, COA Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chun (陳吉仲) said at a news conference in Taipei on Monday.

The regulation corresponds with Article 18 of the act, which stipulates that structures on farmland should be built for agricultural purposes, he said.

People should apply for special permits to build houses on farmland and ensure that 90 percent of their land is used for agriculture, he said.

Since 2015, stricter regulations have successfully curbed illegal construction of structures on farmland, with a 77.87 percent reduction recorded last year, Lin said on Facebook.

As for higher taxes on illegal farmhouses, the Yilan District Court had overruled an administrative lawsuit filed by a resident last year, on the grounds that the tax policy did not violate the House Tax Act (房屋稅條例), Lin said.

The county government yesterday issued Chen a NT$60,000 fine over a Wujie Township (五結) property he uses as a bed-and-breakfast.

Chen promised to avoid a conflict of interest.

Additional reporting by CNA

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