[EDITORIALS]Unintended Tutoring Consequences

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[EDITORIALS]Unintended Tutoring Consequences

The new regulations governing private tutors and tutoring institutes will bring changes to the industry when they go into effect next week. Under the new rules, private tutors will be required to declare their income, but private tutors say they do not know in detail what they must report. Some parents are afraid that their children's lessons might be regarded as illegal tutoring.

Under the new rules, a private tutor, if he is not a college or graduate student, is required to register with a provincial office of education to obtain a certificate. If a private tutor violates the rule, the tutor will be fined up to 1 million won ($769). A second violation will draw a fine of up to 2 million won, and a third violation could draw a 3 million won fine and imprisonment.

In addition, all private tutors, including college students, must file tax income returns every May if their income exceeds an amount which varies by their individual situation.

The new private tutoring system seems to have been devised to prevent costly private tutoring after the Constitutional Court ruled last April against a ban on private tutoring. From a fair taxation point of view, the system is proper. But the upper limit of tax-free income from private tutoring is only 11.5 million won a year if the private tutor is a head of four-member family. The limit is 4 million won a year, or 333,000 won a month, if the private tutor is a housewife or a single person. Under the rule, even a college student who gives private tutoring services for 350,000 won per month to earn his school expenses will be required to pay taxes.

In large cities, there are thousands of private tutoring institutes, while the office of education has only several officials to check up on private tutors. There is no incentive such as tax exemptions for volunteering to file an income tax return. Due to such omissions in the new system, private tutors can easily evade filing income tax returns. That might force private tutoring services into the black market and encourage price hikes in tutoring fees.

If the government introduced the new private tutoring system for reasons other than increasing the amount of tax revenue, it should revise these unreasonable regulations. It is more important to prevent costly private tutoring than to impose taxes on a college student cum private tutor.
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