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Number, age of dependents eligible for tax break to rise

The Finance Committee of the Legislative Yuan yesterday completed its first review of an amendment draft laying out the guidelines for tax reductions for those with dependents.

The draft offers tax reductions for those responsible for the care of relatives between 20 and 60 years old.

The Legislature is expected to expand the bill to allow people taking care of relatives other than their parents, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters to enjoy a tax reduction of NT$82,000 per dependent if the dependent is younger than 20 or is studying, handicapped or incapable of earning a living. It will be up to hospitals and local tax offices to determine who fits the criteria.

Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) estimated that approximately 410,000 people will benefit from such an amendment, increasing the disposable income of taxpayers by NT$2 billion.

The new rules are expected to take effect Dec. 31. As a result, people caring for relatives aged 20-60 will be able to claim new tax reductions when declaring their taxes for 2012 next May.

The Justices of the Constitutional Court (大法官會議) on Dec. 30, 2011 ruled that the current tax reduction criteria is unreasonable. As a result the Judicial Yuan demanded the Ministry of Finance to amend the regulations by Dec. 30, 2012.

According to Justices of the Constitutional Court, current regulations reduce the willingness of people to take care of relatives, negatively affecting the lives of disadvantaged people. The court emphasized that the need of those who cannot take care of themselves does not change when they reach the age of 20.

The amendment has to pass two readings in the Legislative Yuan before it can be written into law.

Actual Prices Only for Transaction Taxes: Chang

Chang also said that actual prices should not be used to calculate real estate and land taxes, but they will be used when levying a transaction tax.

Both housing and land taxes — based on government-assessed prices of the value of land and property — should be kept as low as possible because property and land ownership is considered a long-term investment, the minister said.

Moreover, assessed prices are quite close to the actual market price of a property or piece of land, around 80 percent, so the taxation system is unlikely to be changed, the minister added.

Chang's remarks were made in response to concerns raised by Legislator Lu Hsiu-yen (盧秀燕) at a legislative committee session.

According to Lu, many people are concerned that the government will begin levying real estate taxes based on actual prices, since registration of actual prices of real estate transactions is now required starting from Aug. 1.

In reply, Chang said that the actual transaction prices registered in the government's database will not be used to calculate real estate tax because they do not reflect the value of individual houses but rather the housing markets in different districts.

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