[EDITORIALS]Roh’s taxing attitude

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[EDITORIALS]Roh’s taxing attitude

This government thinks too lightly about taxes. At will, it says it intends to collect more taxes, and when some problem occurs, it says it will conduct tax investigations. It must think that the people have bottomless purses, or regard the entire nation as potential tax evaders.
The remarks that President Roh Moo-hyun made yesterday in his online chat session with the public, together with the National Tax Service’s announcement that it will investigate the funding sources of all people selected to buy apartments in Pangyo, show that this government regards tax problems as quite serious.
While avoiding using the phrase “raise taxes,” President Roh said that he didn’t plan to raise taxes immediately, but that it should be studied.
Mr. Roh also said that among salaried workers, the top 20 percent of income earners are paying 90 percent of income taxes and half are not paying any income taxes at all. “Even if we raise taxes, 50 percent of salaried workers will not see any losses,” he said. What does he mean? Is he implying that raising taxes is not a concern because it will only suck off the top 20 percent?
Mr. Roh said he feared salaried workers would rise up and rally whenever he saw TV reports or read newspapers. “Actually, 97 percent of the general income tax is paid by the top 20 percent,” Mr. Roh said. He spoke as if the media is inflating tax problems and creating anxiety and that tax problems only affect high-income salary earners.
The president seems to be thinking that there is no reason for the entire country to oppose a tax hike because the top 20 percent pay most of the taxes and it would not matter if those people paid more.
This logic is very dangerous. It means that the president is dividing the top 20 percent and the remaining 80 percent, and telling the 80 percent to be silent because they have nothing to lose. No, rather he is telling the 80 percent to applaud, and instigating conflict and opposition between the classes.
The fundamental principle of fair taxation is that all people are subject to taxation, and therefore all people should pay a tax worthy of their income. Only then can they take responsibility and begin to demand more from the government. However, half of salary workers and self-employed people are not paying a cent in taxes. Because of this, whenever tax systems are changed, there are claims that everyone should pay a minimum amount. President Roh is instigating this irrational system and dividing the people.
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