Seoul gov’t tightens standards, updates list of tax delinquents

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Seoul gov’t tightens standards, updates list of tax delinquents

The Seoul Metropolitan Government made an annual update to its online list of local tax delinquents, using even stricter standards this time to spur its collection process. The total amount in arrears adds up to 1.17 trillion won ($1.55 billion), which includes the 237.8 billion won added in the update.

This year, 1,482 people whose overdue debts added up to 30 million won or more after one year were added to the list of 5,497 existing tax dodgers.

The number of people who joined the list jumped from 2013, when 890 were added to the roster. The government attributed the increase primarily to the shortened grace period, which was reduced from two years to one year.

Park Kwon, the former president of UCICOLS, an IT company, owed the government 3.9 billion won in unpaid taxes - the largest sum among individuals added to the list this year. UCICOLS was delisted from the stock market in 2007.

Iljo Investment D&C topped the list of delinquent corporate bodies added this year, owing 5.9 billion won.

Those who failed to pay at least 50 million to 10 million accounted for the largest portion of individuals listed, at 45.5 percent. Those in their 50s accounted for 38.5 percent of all tax dodgers.

Tax dodgers are removed from the list once they reimburse the local government at least 30 percent of what they owe, though the majority of them are unable to do so or refuse to pay. Of the 6,139 on the list last year, only 10.5 percent paid off at least 30 percent of their debts.

Of those currently on the list, Jo Dong-man, a former chairman of Hansol Group, owes the most in unpaid taxes by an individual, at 8.4 billion won. The corporate body with the most outstanding taxes is JU Development, which owes 11.3 billion won. Its affiliate, JU Network, trails just behind, owing 10.9 billion.

JU Group was found to be running a pyramid scheme a decade ago worth more than a trillion won.

“We will take a close look at those who are still refusing to pay taxes even though they have hidden assets,” said Finance Bureau Chief Kim Yeong-han. “We pledge to keep working on collecting unpaid taxes to prevent damage from being done to honest taxpayers.”

The municipal government has proposed bills that will further tighten tax collection standards. It would like to reduce the amount for eligibility on the delinquent list to 10 million won from the current 30 million won, as well as shorten the period for outstanding balances from one year to six months.

The proposals are expected to greatly help the local government in collecting overdue taxes. In November, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs proposed a bill that would ban those on the list of tax delinquents from leaving the country.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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