[Letters] Getting the facts straight about changes to expat tax code
“Huh? Um .?.?. Okay.” This was my initial reaction when I finished reading the article “Taxes on expats to increase this year” (Feb. 20).
I mean, there isn’t much an expat can do in response to this “news” unless it is to pack up and hit the road.
And then I thought, how much of the tax code do I actually comprehend? Did I even get the exemption that allows 30 percent of one’s income to be exempted from taxation? I have no idea.
Then I read David Woelke’s letter [“Foreigner tax break in danger,” Feb. 26] highlighting some problems and scratched my head at the end. Problem 1: an exodus of foreign teachers to China. Woelke says he’s worked in China and asserts that it will look more attractive to those stripped of their shirts by this new change (I am not sure how clear Woelke is about the change or if he even knows whether he gets the supposedly-soon-to-be-abolished tax break now or not).
The article uses equivocal phrases like “will likely pay more taxes” and “the government may extend the remaining 15 percent rule” so one can’t be blamed for bafflement.
Is China calling? Well, if the immigration laws and xenophobia here - can’t imagine they’re much better in China - haven’t sent pedants packing for the Great Wall, then maybe an obscure tax change will. You never know.
The second problem, according to Woelke, will be teachers for hire: modern day book-toting mercenaries who will roam the streets of Korea on the hunt for desperate mothers and kids with whom they may enter into tutorial contracts that are free from the eyes and arms of the National Tax Service. The situation is already “dire” in Woelke’s words and the tax change will turn Korea into a virtual Wild West where expats are forced to ride the range of tax delinquency.
Again, I wonder how clear the facts are to draw such assertions.
Does Mr. Woelke get money back each year from his tax filing? I do. Will that money increase with this new change? Will the change apply across the board to everyone? Does it start now or in 2012? Do we really know anything with certitude?
Lastly, I was most perplexed when I read the last paragraph of Woelke’s letter where he says, “We can’t buy a phone, get credit cards, enter some saunas .?.?.”
What? Um, yes we can. I have a credit card - Lotte Card - and I own my phone. I signed up for the credit card some years ago - all they required was a bank book and proof of employment.
Once I had a card, I could own my phone. It was that simple. I’m not sure about the sauna because the first one I went to I was gawked at - I was the only tall, white guy in the place - and I haven’t had the urge to return.
Nevertheless, I believe we’d better first get all the facts about this supposedly approaching tax alteration before we forecast mass departure and criminal activity.
John M. Rodgers, Gwangjin, Seoul