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One tax cheat is only 8 years old

Feb 14,2020
The tax agency’s crackdown on evasion of real estate-related taxes continues.

According to the National Tax Service on Thursday, it is auditing 361 individuals and companies suspected of evading such taxes, and more than 70 percent of the individuals were 30 years old or younger - including an 8-year-old.

The audits are the result of joint government efforts by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as well as local governments. They were conducted between October 2019 and January.

The focus has been on the greater Seoul area, where real estate is considered overvalued.

The tax agency said it zeroed in on people or companies that purchased high-priced real estate despite having small or no incomes. Young buyers were obvious targets.

While individuals accounted for 90 percent or 325 of the audits, 36 companies were found to be involved in tax-dodging schemes.

People in their 30s accounted for 63 percent of the individuals audited. The second-largest group were people in their 40s. Buyers in their 20s or younger accounted for 10 percent of the cases.

In one case, an 8-year-old was found to have purchased an apartment building with some commercial space last year.

Despite having no income, the 8-year-old was able to purchase the building with money inherited from his grandparents and parents.

While the inheritance from grandparents was reported to the tax authorities, money inherited from the 8-year-old’s father was not. The authorities did not say who made the transaction for the 8-year-old.

One couple under audit purchased a high-end apartment with embezzled company funds.

The husband was the company’s CEO. According to the tax authorities, he embezzled company funds for the purchase and recorded it as a company expense, which is also corporate tax evasion.

Then the husband gave the money as a gift to his wife, who bought the apartment. The gift was not reported to the tax agency.

The Moon Jae-in administration has been waging a war against what it considers an overheated real estate market, and the tax audits are a part of that war.

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