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Tax mitigation not for top officials: DPP

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Tax mitigation is common among the public, but is inappropriate for Taiwan's highest officials, said a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilor yesterday.

DPP Taipei City office director and former party spokesman Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) slammed the premier-designate yesterday for a suspected case of gift-tax evasion in 2000.

In 2000, Premier-designate Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) allegedly reported a gifted property as a “purchase” to avoid Taiwan's gift tax, according to the biweekly Wealth Magazine (財訊雜誌).

Pressed for comment on the allegation, Chuang appeared unprepared at first but recovered quickly.

“On the day of the handover, Jiang ought to provide a public account of the incident,” said Chuang at the DPP's Taipei headquarters on Wednesday.

The premier-designate isn't alone in tax mitigation, but it's imperative for Taiwan's highest officials to report assets honestly, Chuang continued.

“A lot of people use strategies to reduce their taxes. Still, those who sit at the top must report their assets very honestly. Otherwise everybody else would follow suit, and then we'd have an issue.

“In the future, how can (Jiang's) Ministry of Finance hold the common people accountable for tax evasion?” said Chuang.

But Chuang conceded that the premier-designate has been “placed in an awkward predicament.”

“(In 2000), Jiang Yi-hua could not have imagined that he would ascend like a helicopter to the top of the Executive Yuan.”

According to a Wealth Magazine report released yesterday, Jiang acquired a 30-ping apartment in Taipei's Zhongzheng District from his father in 2000. Jiang then reported the asset as a “gift” in his filing to the Control Yuan (監察院), but as a “purchase” to his local land administration office.

The report suggested that he falsely declared his real estate property to avoid the gift tax.

The statute of limitations on Jiang's back taxes has since expired, but the new Cabinet cannot wish for the false property declaration to leave a stain on its political future, said Chuang.

Father Paid: Executive Yuan

Jiang's father has paid all gift taxes in compliance with the Estate and Gift Tax Act (遺產及贈與稅法), according to an Executive Yuan statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The Cabinet statement cited the act's Article 7, which states that in most cases gifts are tax-free to the recipient. Instead, the person who makes the gift is responsible for reporting and paying a gift tax.

The statement included a photocopy of receipt from the Ministry of Finance's National Taxation Bureau of the Northern Area in Keelung City.

The Keelung City branch received gift taxes between March 26 and May 25, 2000 from Jiang Mu-chi (江木吉), the premier-designate's father. The receipt, stamped by the Keelung Farmers' Association, was for a total of NT$292,142.

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