Get tough on taxes

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Get tough on taxes

For the past three years, professionals with high incomes, such as doctors and lawyers, and self-employed people have not declared or have evaded taxes worth more than 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion).

This is truly frustrating for wage earners whose incomes are clear-cut. Besides, since the number of professionals that the National Tax Service officially monitors stands at only 85,000, the amount of tax evasion calculated must be just the tip of an iceberg.

Last February, the government reckoned that salary earners declare 85 percent of their actual incomes while the self-employed declare only 57 percent.

So there is no reason to lecture wage earners about paying taxes.

The problem is not just the actual taxes. Incomes are used to determine fees for the national health insurance system and the national pension program. This means we have to question the level of fairness.

At least, an increasing number of people use credit cards and take cash receipts for their purchases, so the incomes of the self-employed have become more transparent.

According to the NTS, private transactions with credit cards or cash receipts increased from 50.8 percent in 2005 to 68 percent in the first half of this year. The government policy aimed to measure incomes using those of the self-employed as a standard are starting to show results.

However, there is a long way to go. The government must continue to work on the problem until it can see the incomes of professionals and the self-employed as clearly as it sees those of wage earners.

The NTS should continue to conduct inspections on taxes and impose tougher punishments for deliberate tax evasion.

We need to do this to maintain state finances and secure resources for social welfare.
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