Income gap between rich, poor households remains wide: MOF

07/04/2017 07:46 PM

Taipei, July 4 (CNA) The wealth gap between the richest households and their poorest counterparts remains wide, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

Following the month-long income tax filing season in May, the MOF released data showing that the top 5 percent of tax paying households reported an average of NT$4.72 million (US$154,754) in annual income, compared with the average of NT$47,000 reported by the bottom 5 percent.

The figures show the gap between the richest and the poorest households is the second-highest level since 2015, when the difference reached around 110 times, the MOF data shows.

Among the top 5 percent of the tax-paying households, the average annual wage totaled NT$2.87 million, about 198 times the average of only NT$14,000 reported by the bottom 5 percent, the MOF said.

Last year, the top 5 percent of the richest households reported an average NT$1.23 million in stock dividend gains from their equity investments, about 97.5 times the average of the bottom 5 percent, the MOF added.

However, the MOF said that the data does not include income resulting from gifts or inheritances, and some underground economic activity, such as street vending, so the statistics do not reflected a comprehensive picture of household income.

According to the MOF, a total of 6.13 million households paid their income tax in 2016, bringing the total personal income tax revenue to NT$5.7 trillion, while the top 5 percent of the richest households accounted for 25.3 percent of the total income in tax payments.

Taipei had the top household income rankings in 2016, with the average household income hitting NT$1.33 million, since many multinational enterprises -- which tend to offer higher compensation -- are located in the capital city.

Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County came in second and third, with an average household income of NT$1.29 million and NT$1.11 million, respectively, since the Hsinchu Science Park is located in the county. The science park houses many profitable high-tech giants such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, 台積電).

However, Pingtung County, Nantou County and Chiayi County, where agriculture is the mainstream business, were at the bottom of the household income spectrum with average household incomes of NT$738,000, NT$733,000 and NT$732,000, respectively, the MOF said.

The income data provides evidence of the uneven development between urban and rural areas in Taiwan, the MOF said.

(By Chiu Po-sheng and Frances Huang)ENDITEM/J

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