[EDITORIALS]Welfare agency's bumble

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[EDITORIALS]Welfare agency's bumble

In an egregious error, the Korea Labor Welfare Corp., which is supervised by the Ministry of Labor, has paid 3 billion won ($2.3 million) in additional taxes because it failed to meet the deadline for a tax report. This incident is another example of slack discipline in this administration in its final year.

It is hard to understand how the Korea Labor Welfare Corp. ended up paying the additional taxes. The local tax office imposed the 3 billion won in penalty taxes on the organization because the agency did not submit tax reports until three months after the deadline. The tax report concerned income-tax withholdings linked to the corporation's payment of bills to local medical institutions that provided treatment to workers suffering from illnesses or injuries caused by industrial disasters.

The job of handing in tax reports was not a difficult task; it was a regular job that the agency had done by the end of February every year. The welfare body said that it had made the mistake due to a change in the way it paid taxes and modifications in its computer programs doing the task. But no other government-run organizations paid penalty taxes for failing to meet the reporting deadline.

Where did the 3 billion won come from? The money is raised from insurance premiums paid by each and every employee and employer on a mandatory basis. The welfare organization lends up to 5 million won per worker to those whose livelihood is threatened because of their employers' failure to pay them in time.

The workers' welfare body said that it had fired those responsible for the blunder and is asking the National Tax Office to return the additional taxes paid. But the organization's supervisor, the Ministry of Labor, should find the truth and punish those responsible. It should also re-examine the job performance of the agency, which manages about 4 trillion won of premiums. The government should also tighten discipline in officialdom.

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