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NTS releases new list of tax evaders, owing less debt

Amount owed is down from W13.3T in 2016 to W11.5T this year
Dec 12,2017
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The National Tax Service announced on Monday a list of 21,403 offenders, 15,027 people and 6,376 companies, that have owed the government more than 200 million won ($184,000) for more than a year, including Kim Woo-choong, the former founder and chairman of Korea’s now-defunct conglomerate Daewoo; the children of the late Yoo Byung-eun, who owned the sunken ferry Sewol; and the actress Kim Hye-sun.

The NTS said this figure represents an increase of 4,748 names, largely because last year those who owed 300 million won or more were listed, whereas this year the threshold was lowered to 200 million won.

But the amount that these repeat offenders owe the government has dropped 1.83 trillion won, from 13.3 trillion won in 2016 to 11.5 trillion won, largely thanks to the continuous effort of the tax agency in collecting those taxes.

Also on the list is the 56-year-old former chairman of Hyoja Construction, who owes the government 44.7 billion won in inheritance tax, and the 81-year-old former Daewoo Group chairman, Kim, who owes 36.9 billion won in capital gains tax.

The three children of the late Sewol ferry owner owed the government a combined 11.5 billion won. The 74-year-old former Dong-A Group chairman, Choi Won-seok, owed the government 5.75 million won.

Among the repeated offenders were celebrities such as the 63-year-old singer Koo Chang-moo, who has not paid 3.87 million won in capital gains tax, and actress Kim Hye-sun, who owes 4.07 million won for comprehensive income tax.

Also on the list is the housing development company Kored Housing, which topped the lists with 52.6 billion won worth of taxes owed, followed by Myongji University with 14.9 billion won.

Some offenders used divorce proceedings to hide their wealth. One tax dodger turned out to be living in the same apartment as their spouse, even after they had divorced, and made it look as though they had split their wealth as a result. But after police investigated the apartment, they found two vaults containing 430 million won in cash and three gold bars.

The government has been intensifying their investigation into other repeat offenders.

In the hopes of encouraging people to report any suspicious tax evasion activities, the government is offering 5 to 15 percent of the taxes collected as compensation, with a ceiling of 2 billion won.

“Despite having the resources to pay their taxes, these offenders have hidden their personal wealth while living a luxurious life,” said Choi Jeong-wook, head of the collection and legal affairs bureau. “We plan to track these people down through various means.”

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]