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May 29, 2017

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Paying taxes is one's duty, not a form of 'charity'

It spells trouble when a government official suggests that paying one's tax honestly is anything but a civic duty. The problem is worse when that official is the finance minister.

Last week, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) expressed gratitude to and admiration of four of the nation's richest people — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) Chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀), Hon Hai Group Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), Eastern Realty Chairman Wang Ying-chieh (王應傑) and Delta Electronics Chairman Bruce Cheng (鄭崇華) — for saying that they are willing to pay the so-called wealthy tax, a series of new taxation measures aimed at financial institutions and those with higher incomes.

According to the finance minister, the four said that they are willing to pay the extra tax because the amounts are relatively low, lower even than their charity donations.

Using the four as examples, the minister urged the affluent to honestly pay their taxes.

"Consider paying taxes a form of charity. Your tax payments benefit the whole population. It is a charitable and pious act, " He said. "In fact, there is only so much money you can spend."

Chang's opinion risks antagonizing the general public as he focused only on the rich while ignoring the millions of honest taxpayers. But even that is benign considering the twisted plutocratic logic underlining Chang's argument. Taxation is not a form of charity. The rich in Taiwan pay taxes not for the benefit of the whole population, but to fulfill one's duty and more importantly to ensure the proper functioning of the nation upon which their own well-being depends.

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