COST OF LIVING/NT$6,000 cash rebate could be issued at end of February: Official
Taipei, Jan. 5 (CNA) Taiwanese citizens could receive a lump-sum tax surplus rebate of NT$6,000 (US$196) by the end of February, a Cabinet official who is familiar with the matter told CNA.
On Wednesday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the government was aiming to issue the cash payments, taken from a NT$140 billion tax surplus, shortly after the Lunar New Year's holiday.
While the main opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) lawmakers have called for such payments to be issued ahead of the holiday from Jan. 20-29, Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a press briefing Thursday that this was not feasible.
A Cabinet official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, instead told CNA that the payment would not be made until the end of February at the earliest, as preliminaries such as legislation and system setups were needed beforehand.
According to the official, the Cabinet could finalize a proposed bill about its planned allocations of the surplus tax revenues next Thursday and send it to the Legislature for approval.
After the Legislature, which goes into recess next Friday, clears the bill soon after lawmakers start convening in a new session in February, the Cabinet will have to propose a corresponding funding bill to the Legislature for approval, the official said.
At the same time, the official said, the Cabinet would be working to set up an online registration system for Taiwanese to apply to collect the money, which would take roughly one month to complete.
If both the legislation and system setups proceed according to schedule, people who register online could see their cash payment wired to their bank account as soon as the end of February, the official said.
The official added that the Cabinet was also planning an alternative to the online system to allow people to collect their payment in person at the post office.
At Thursday's press briefing, Lo did not confirm whether the Cabinet would be able to send the bill to the Legislature next week, but he stressed that government officials were working tirelessly to ensure the proposal would be finalized as soon as possible.
According to Lo, the bill will include the rebate plan as well as other planned allocations of the surplus tax revenues.
In total, Taiwan would see last year's tax revenues exceeding the budgeted amount by NT$450 billion, after the central government collected more than NT$3 trillion in tax revenue for the first 11 months of 2022, according to estimates from the Ministry of Finance.
The government has said apart from NT$70 billion that would have to be distributed to local governments, it would spend NT$200 billion of the total on measures to financially support the health and labor insurance systems, subsidize electricity prices, and bolster the resilience of the economy.
It also said some NT$40 billion would be kept in reserve, while the remaining NT$140 billion would be given back to the people.
Speaking of the planned cash rebate, Lo said the Cabinet was inclined to include the wealthy so that "all citizens, young and old, can share the country's economic achievements."
The surplus came mostly from corporate income taxes, Lo said, adding that Taiwan's economic growth had been "stronger than expected."
As for whether Taiwan-based foreigners who have paid taxes to the government will be included in the plan, Lo said the issue was "being discussed" at the Cabinet but "nothing has been decided."
He noted some foreign nationals were eligible for the stimulus vouchers launched by the government in October 2021, including spouses of Taiwanese nationals who have the residence permit, foreigners with the permanent residence permit, and foreign diplomats.
However, Lo stressed, stimulus vouchers are different from cash rebates in terms of their purposes, as the former sought to encourage spending at home at a time when domestic demand in Taiwan had been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that the government would consider all suggestions made by the public on the matter and report to the public once a decision is made.
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