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Civic organizations blast real estate tax reform plans

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Finance (MOF) yesterday staged its second conference to gather opinions from the public on the ongoing real estate tax reform, with civic organizations loudly voicing their disapproval.

Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) on Monday outlined his plans to phase out the luxury tax provided that reforms are successful in merging the land and house taxes into the same category, and if real estate properties are taxed according to their true market value.

MOF's Proposal

Chang noted that the MOF intends to furnish a draft tax reform to be ready for enactment early next year in order to avoid the expected added complications of the upcoming elections.

Most notably, Chang stated that the problem with current real estate tax laws is the government's inability to draw revenues from immensely profitable property sales. Current loopholes in the system include the government's inability to levy land taxes on property transactions completed within one year, the tax evasion haven created by the separation of the house and land taxes, and the current regulations that fail to reflect the actual value of real estate properties and imposes inadequate tax obligations on property transactions relative to the profits derived.

Changing the regulations governing the valuation assessment of real estate properties is the most vital aspect of the tax reform, said Chang, adding that the matter is his highest priority while in office.

Groups Cite Lack of Ownership Tax

Civic organizations including the Taiwan Adequate Housing Association (TAHA, 台灣居住正義協會) and the Snails Without Shells Alliance (無殼蝸牛聯盟) yesterday staged a protest outside the MOF, asserting that the real estate tax reform plans are inadequate.

In particular, civic organizations blasted Chang's plans to phase out the luxury tax. Civic organizations demanded that the MOF leave the luxury tax intact and urged the government to impose net income tax on profits derived from property sales according to the actual transaction prices on the market, and to impose an ownership tax on properties that are not the primary residence of the owner.

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