New leaders of GNP want tax cuts stopped

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New leaders of GNP want tax cuts stopped

The new leadership of the ruling Grand National Party, desperate to reach out to voters after losing by-elections in April, is promising to ax planned tax cuts for high-income individuals and big companies - one of President Lee Myung-bak’s flagship policies that brought him victory in the 2007 presidential race.

Reversing the tax cuts would require National Assembly approval.

“We will come up with 10 trillion won [$9.2 billion] from the scrapped taxes and money left over from last year’s budget and use it for students’ tuition, child care and housing problems for the lower-middle class,” said Hwang Woo-yea, the party’s new floor leader, yesterday. “The National Assembly decides where to spend tax money and the power to use the country’s money is the greatest authority given to the National Assembly by the people.”

Expanding government support for students and child care is a policy that has been pushed by liberal opposition parties over the past few years.

President Lee, who is away on a European tour, planned to reduce taxes throughout his term, which had met resistance from both the opposition and some members of his own party, who complained the cuts only benefited the rich.

The plan was to reduce taxes for the highest income bracket, which supporters said would boost the economy.

The current law says that income taxes will be cut from 35 percent to 33 percent and that the 22-percent corporate tax rate for companies with more than 200 million won in taxable profits would be cut to 20 percent starting next year.

The chief policy maker of the GNP, who was elected with floor speaker Hwang last week, said yesterday that the party is looking into other policies to please the public, like caps on rents and rental deposits.

“There is a need to place price caps on jeonse and wolse in regions that show unnatural prices,” said chief policy maker Lee Ju-young. Jeonse refers to long-term rent deposit while wolse means monthly rent.

“There is the fact that price ceilings tend to go against the natural flow of the market and there should be as few of them as possible,” Lee said, “but partial price caps on jeonse and wolse will be looked at in a very positive light in order to lessen pressure on the lower-income class.”

The government has balked at instituting price controls on housing.

Hwang and Lee are changing the party’s priorities rapidly. Both are considered outsiders in the party, unaligned with either of the big factions in the GNP, including the conservative one that supports President Lee.

They are already causing discord with the government. A Blue House official said yesterday that there have been no negotiations on scrapping the tax cuts and questioned how the 10 trillion won would be brought about from abandoning those cuts.

The ministry in charge of tax policy also made clear that the government would stick to its current plan for now.

“It’s difficult to say that the policy, which is expected to be put in action by the government, will be changed. We will maintain the basis for the tax cuts,” said Bang Moon-kyu, spokesman of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
한나라 또 ‘감세 내전’
소장파 "법인·소득세 2%P 인하 반대”
내년 대선·총선 앞두고 정체성 논란 가열

한나라당 안에서 ‘부자감세’ 논쟁이 다시 불거질 전망이다. 친이명박계 임해규·박상은 의원과 중립 성향의 정두언·김성식·정태근 의원, 친박근혜계 구상찬·이진복 의원 등 소장파 의원 7명은 25일 국회 의원회관에서 만나 법인세·소득세 최고세율을 2%포인트 인하한다는 정부와 당의 방침에 반대한다는 데 뜻을 모았다.

 정부와 여당은 2008년 말 법인세는 ‘과표 2억원 초과 구간’에 대한 세율을 22%에서 20%로, 소득세는 ‘과표 8800만원 초과 구간’에 대한 세율을 35%에서 33%로 깎아주는 법안을 통과시켰다. 하지만 이후 “부자를 위한 감세”라는 논란이 일자 법안의 시행시기를 2013년까지 늦추도록 법을 바꿨다. 그러고도 당 내에서조차 논란이 가라앉지 않자 지난해 말 안상수 대표 등이 나서 “법인세 감세는 유지하되 소득세 감세는 다소 완화하는 방안을 검토할 수 있다”고 봉합해 놓은 상태다.

 하지만 소장파 의원들은 이날 “법인세 감세부터 손을 봐야 한다”는 데 의견을 모았다. 이날 의원들이 잠정 합의한 법인세법 개정안의 방향은 ‘과표 100억원 초과 구간’을 신설해 현행 세율인 22%를 유지하도록 하는 방안이라고 한다.

 이들이 추진하는 대로 법인세법이 바뀌어 100억원 초과 구간이 신설되고 22%의 세율이 유지될 경우 대기업 위주로 1400여 개 법인이 감세혜택에서 제외된다. 이 경우 세수는 6조1000억여원이 늘어난다는 게 국회 예산정책처의 추산이다.


 또 소득세와 관련해서도 ▶과표 8800만원 초과 구간의 세율을 35%로 유지하는 방안 ▶1억5000만원 초과 구간을 신설해 35% 세율을 매기는 방안 등을 논의했다고 한 참석자는 전했다. 일부 참석자들은 “아예 1억5000만원 초과 구간을 새롭게 만들어 이 구간에는 36% 정도까지 세율을 올려야 한다”는 의견도 내놓았다고 한다.

 이 같은 법인세·소득세 감세 철회 및 완화 방안은 정부의 방침이자 한나라당 당론인 ‘감세유지’(소득세·법인세 최고세율 2%포인트 인하) 안과 배치돼 정체성 논란을 몰고올 수도 있다.

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