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Taipei mayor miffed over tax check on parents

2015/01/12 23:01:33

Ko Wen-je (2nd R), mayor of Taipei, finds himself in an uncomfortable position while attending a dancing and drumming activity.

Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je expressed dismay Monday that Taiwan's tax bureau is going after his parents for possible tax evasion because of a NT$10 million loan they gave Ko to help him pay for a house in Taipei.

Ko, a surgeon-turned-politician, said he was disgusted when the National Taxation Bureau audited his personal income taxes to see if he had reported income from speeches made in a few years prior to last year's Nov. 29 elections.

Ko said that now that the elections were over, the National Taxation Bureau was "going overboard" in having his father go to the agency and explain the matter.

"This goes beyond what any normal person can tolerate," Ko said, publicly asking the agency to explain its actions.

"Let the ranking official in the bureau explain the situation. Then I can decide how to respond," the mayor said.

Reports said Ko's parents received a letter from the bureau last week, asking them to provide the amount and date of the loan and the reason for lending Ko the money.

If the loan was not a gift from the parents to their son, then there should be a loan agreement, the reports said.

The bureau responded that when it receives a tip, it follows a standard procedure and asks people related to the case to come forward and stressed that it was not trying to give any individual a hard time.

During the mayoral campaign, Ko's rival charged that the NT$10 million Ko said he borrowed from his father to buy a house was actually a gift and that Ko was treating it as a loan to avoid gift taxes.

Ko's wife has refuted the accusation by producing a bank account to show that she and her husband remit NT$130,000 every year to Ko's father as an interest payment, indicating a lender-borrower relationship.

Meanwhile, Ko found himself in an uncomfortable position Monday when he attended a "One Billion Rising" dancing and drumming activity dedicated to promoting women's rights and ending violence against women.

Ko was invited by the sponsor to dance with children, and after first declining, he finally consented and had trouble moving in step with the music.

Hsu Li-ming, the head of the city's Department of Social Welfare, tried to help by coming forward to dance with him, only to apparently be chewed out by the mayor, though Ko's words could not be heard over the music.

Ko said later that the activity was necessary but that he did not like being turned into a "clown."

(By Wei Shu, Ku Chuan and Lilian Wu)