Plastic surgeons, lawyers hid up to 1/3 of income

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Plastic surgeons, lawyers hid up to 1/3 of income

Plastic surgery clinics and law firms were among scores of lucrative private businesses found to have neglected to report more than one-third of their income to the taxman.

The National Tax Service said yesterday it is launching a probe into 70 high-income earners including doctors, lawyers, accountants and realtors on suspicion of tax evasion.

The office said it recently conducted a tax audit on 590 private entrepreneurs to see how much income they earned vis-a-vis reported last year. It found they had concealed 37.5 percent of their actual income on average, resulting in unpaid taxes worth a total of 363.2 billion won ($310.8 billion).

“In recent years, the situation has been improving as more high-income earners honestly report their income,” said an official at the tax office. “However, the people that were selected for additional investigations are those who intentionally falsified their reported incomes.”

In some cases, bank accounts were opened in the name of an employee, while in others, real estate transactions were signed off by a relative, he said. Citing more examples, he said one plastic surgeon urged his foreign patients to pay in cash so he could omit those operations from his tax bills, while a dermatologist gave bonuses to members of staff most successful at persuading clients to pay in cash.

The tax office will step up its investigation into high-income earnings this year.

By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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