[EDITORIALS]Head off taxpayer strikes

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[EDITORIALS]Head off taxpayer strikes

Nearly 90,000 households in apartments in Ansan, Gyeonggi province, may refuse to pay their property taxes altogether. People living in some adjacent areas have property tax bills that amount to only about half of the taxes that Ansan residents are paying.
Indeed, the property tax for a 102-square-meter (1,103 square-foot) apartment in Gojan-dong’s new town in Ansan was set at 274,000 won ($266), but for an apartment of the same size in Bundang, Gyeonggi province, where the price of that size apartment is twice as high, the tax was listed at about 160,000 won.
The fundamentals of taxation include a requirement to take into account individuals’ wealth when taxes are levied. With this rule violated, it is easy to see why Ansan citizens are upset.
The government’s response is that “this is something that occurred while we tried to raise the tax burden on metropolitan Seoul and reduce it on other regions, but it will be limited to just a few areas.” But with that loose logic, we wonder if the administration can quell the sense of outrage among Ansan citizens.
This type of thing was bound to happen because the government included dramatic tax measures in its real estate policy announced on Aug. 31. The basic cause was that as the government raised property taxes, it attempted to compensate for the increase and calm the people by allowing local governments to reduce property taxes at their discretion. As a result, in a town where real estate speculation is rampant but the local government is financially stable, residents benefit from cuts in property taxes while in less well-off locales, residents would not receive the same advantages.
If the government ignores the Ansan citizens’ protest, there is a strong possibility that it could lead to an all-out refusal to pay taxes.
In a wealthy apartment complex in Apgujeong-dong in Gangnam district, Seoul, residents have hung a placard demanding the resignation of the chief of the district government, who has refused to reduce their property taxes.
The real-estate policy that was unveiled last month must be adjusted in the National Assembly so that it better reflects reality.
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