Thousands protest against ‘unfair’ tax cuts in Taipei


FEED THE RICH: Data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs show that eight of the top 40 richest people in Taiwan pay no tax, while wage earners pay the bulk

By Loa Iok-sin STAFF REPORTER Sunday, Dec 14, 2008, Page 2

Participants raise placards in a demonstration organized by the Alliance for Fair Tax Reform in Taipei yesterday to protest against corporate tax reductions. The signs read “Fairness” and “Demand a fair tax system.” PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

Led by the Alliance for Fair Tax Reform (AFTR), thousands of people took to the streets yesterday to show their opposition to government tax cuts, which they believe only benefit the rich.

“We had a cut in the securities exchange transaction tax earlier this year, and now the big corporations are pushing for a cut in the inheritance tax and an extension of the Statute for Upgrading Industries [促進產業升級條例],” AFTR spokesman Chien Hsi-chieh told the demonstrators at Liberty Square before the march began.

The statute, first adopted in 1990, was designed to boost the economy by giving favorable treatment such as tax breaks to selected industries or businesses choosing to invest in selected areas.

As the statute is supposed to expire next year, business lobbyist groups are pushing for its extension.

“Business leaders always tell us that tax breaks would help them prosper, and in turn, they would be paying more tax,” Chien said. “Decades have passed since we first had tax breaks favoring the corporations and we’ve yet to see any increase in tax revenue.”

“No tax breaks for the rich” and “we want a fair tax reform,” the crowd shouted as they marched through Taipei streets.

Confederation of Taipei Trade Unions executive director Chou Chia-chun (周佳君) agreed.

“According to figures released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs [in 2005], eight of the top 40 richest people in Taiwan did not pay a cent in taxes — while we the ordinary wage-earners are shouldering more than 70 percent of the tax burden,” Chou said.

“The government should collect more tax from the rich and lift a little bit of the tax burden off the laborers,” she said.

Garden of Hope Foundation executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) voiced concern that unfair tax cuts would only widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

“As a result, more people will need to depend on the social welfare system, but I don’t know where the government will get the money as it’s already deep in debt after all the tax cuts,” Chi said.

The parade stopped as it passed by the Legislative Yuan and released a list of 13 lawmakers across party lines who strongly support what they consider “unfair tax reform” plans.

The legislators on the list included: Chen Chieh (陳杰), Lin Te-fu (林德福), Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛), Hsueh Ling (薛凌), Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅), Wang Sing-nan (王幸男), Chen Ken-te (陳根德), Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾), Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡), Sun Ta-chien (孫大千), Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) and Ting Shou-chung (丁守中).

Youth Labor Union 95 spokesman Chen Poh-chien (陳柏謙) urged voters to boycott the lawmakers on the list in the next legislative election.

The demonstrators marched peacefully to Ketagalan Blvd in front of the Presidential Office, where alliance convener Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋) called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to oppose unfair tax reforms and remove Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der (李述德).