tax evasion-penalty

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- The National Tax Service (NTS) declared war against tax evasion Wednesday, announcing a bold plan to raise penalties for tax evasion to an almost exorbitant level.

In a report to the president, the NTS said it plans to increase maximum fines for tax evasion from the current 5 million won (US$4,450) to 300 million won for each attempt.

Attempts to evade taxes include hiding or fabricating account books, as well as offering false verbal accounts, it said.

Fines can be accumulated for multiple attempts, which means fines could easily add up to billions of won as an offense usually consist of several attempts, it noted.

Such a legal revision still requires parliamentary approval, but the move comes as the newly inaugurated Park Geun-hye administration has vowed efforts to crack down on the underground economy.

The NTS said the so-called regularization of the underground economy will lead to additional tax revenues of 28.5 trillion won or more than $25 billion over the next five years, which can be funneled to fund most of the welfare programs pledged by Park during her election campaign.

The tax office said its stepped-up monitoring efforts will focus on high-income earners, large conglomerates and entrepreneurs who are most likely to evade taxes, as well as private moneylenders and people suspected of offshore tax evasion.

Also, to encourage more whistle-blowing, the NTS plans to further raise its reward for information on tax evasion, which has already been increased earlier this year from 100 million won to a maximum of 1 billion won.

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