NTS vows to punish tax dodgers

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NTS vows to punish tax dodgers

The National Tax Service (NTS) has pledged to chase after high-income self-employed business owners suspected of evading taxes.

The tax agency said it will investigate 86 individuals suspected of tax evasion, a group the NTS described as having “illegally and knowingly cheated average Koreans, making their lives even harder.”

The group includes 34 hagwon owners, 20 money lenders and 32 owners of restaurant franchises and other businesses.

The hagwon owners under investigation are those who “propagate the need for excessive prerequisite studying and collect high lesson fees from parents,” according to the agency. The NTS said the owners in question asked parents to pay in cash, or required them to transfer fees to a bank accounts set up with borrowed names to evade taxes. The majority are based in Gangnam, Seocho and Songpa Districts.

Also under investigation are loan sharks who lent money to small business owners and financially desperate individuals using excessive interest rates, who then used illegal means to collect interest payments.

The NTS said it is also investigating scammers who sold fake products.

One such individual was a funeral service provider who sold off cheap funeral products advertised as artisan-made. Another was a medical device seller who lured elderly customers using false or exaggerated ads, selling the products at five times their original cost, the NTS said.

Restaurant franchise owners who collected excessive fees for ingredients and royalties from individual shops are also being investigated, it said.

“We will thoroughly follow every financial transaction made by these individuals, and will make sure that we catch every single bit of untaxed income,” NTS said in a statement.

The NTS has in recent years cracked down on tax evaders, investigating 926 such cases and levying 858.2 billion won in back taxes over the past five years.

Through August of this year, the agency has investigated 147 individuals and imposed 85.1 billion won in back taxes.

“Average Koreans are having a hard time due to the prolonged economic downturn, and we decided to go after the tax evaders who make their lives even harder. It is a show of determination on our part,” said Kwon Soon-bak, a senior official at the NTS.

BY PARK JUNG-YOUN [park.jungyoun@joongang.co.kr]
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