1

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

TAIWAN: European MPs meet with Taiwan Envoy despite China risks

European MPs meet with Taiwan Envoy despite China risks

HRWF Note: HRWF consultant on China, Dr Zsuzsa-Anna Ferenczy (currently based in Taiwan), was interviewed by Voice of America (See below) TVBS News (See at 0’42” and 2’52”) and another Taiwanese TV Channel (See at 1’08” and 1’33”)

 

By Erin Hale

 

VOA (31.10.2021) – https://bit.ly/2Ybt4g3 – As Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu made an unprecedented trip to Brussels on Friday, it remained unclear whether Europe will face repercussions from China for displaying closer ties with the self-ruled East Asian island claimed by China.

China previously imposed sanctions on EU parliamentarians after the EU sanctioned Chinese officials linked to Xinjiang, a far western Chinese province where millions of ethnic minority Muslims have been detained in internment camps.

 

Now, as Wu’s travels take him to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania and Belgium, it is possible China could use the same tactics again, according to Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

 

“Beijing could impose sanctions on EU officials who met with Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. It could also postpone a planned meeting between Xi Jinping and European Council President Charles Michel, and a 27+1 meeting that has been broached,” she said, referring to a summit between China and EU leaders.

 

Beijing regards Taiwan as a wayward province that will one day be united with the mainland. Under Xi, Beijing has taken a more aggressive policy of squeezing Taiwan out of international space and is quickly angered when its government or officials are treated as though they are independent.

 

After news of Wu’s trip was reported last week, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged Europe not to “undermine the political foundation of bilateral relations” with China, according to Reuters.

 

Undeterred, Charlie Weimers, a Swedish member of the European Parliament and its EU-Taiwan relations rapporteur, shared updates about meeting with Wu on Twitter, as did Belgian politician Els Van Hoof, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the country’s Chamber of Representatives, one of the Belgian houses of Parliament, and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.

 

While Wu has previously visited Europe, his meetings in the administrative capital of the EU are unprecedented. The trip comes as Taiwan publicizes its growing ties with EU member states such as Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The three countries together donated more than 850,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan after earlier receiving face masks and other medical supplies donated by Taiwan.

 

At the same time, Europe has become more wary of China’s expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, prompting the bloc to include China as a potential security threat in its first Indo-Pacific strategy report released this year. Germany, France and the Netherlands all have separate strategies for the region as well, which include concerns about China, while NATO is also publicly discussing the Asian superpower.

 

“There is a tangible push for the EU to upgrade ties with Taiwan, largely shaped by the [European Parliament],” said Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy, a doctoral research fellow at the European Union Centre in Taiwan at National Taiwan University.

 

The push, she added, is not for the EU to recognize Taiwanese sovereignty but instead to disconnect EU-Taiwanese cooperation from EU-China relations.

 

Pushing trade deal

 

Wu called Friday for a bilateral investment deal that could see Taiwan invest more in Europe in a speech at an Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China conference in Rome, which he attended by video link, according to Taiwanese media.

 

While China has major investments from Western Europe and to Serbia, Hungary and Poland, promises of large projects from China elsewhere in the Baltics, Eastern and Central Europe have not been as fruitful as some nations once hoped.

 

Earlier this year, Lithuania pulled out of the 17+1 regional cooperation bloc of Central and Eastern European countries, as well as Estonia and Latvia, aimed at promoting closer business ties with Beijing. China had invested on an estimated $94.7 million in Lithuania — a relatively small amount — in projects since 2015, according to findings from the Central and Eastern European Center for Asian Studies.

 

China halted trade with the tiny Baltic state in retaliation for its actions. China has also showcased the economic benefits of a closer relationship as seen last week in Greece, where China’s state-owned company COSCO raised its investment stake in Greece’s Piraeus Port Authority to 67%, according to Nikkei Asia.

 

The carrot-and-stick approach from Beijing “serves to send a message to member states who might be on the fence that there would be consequences to their ‘mistakes,'” said Ferenczy. “But it also has a domestic consideration, to show that China doesn’t allow countries, for example Lithuania, to disrespect it, but that China is generous, and its generosity is respected, for example in Greece.”

 

Earlier this week, however, Wu himself warned European nations to “think twice” about Chinese investments.

 

“If you think that you are dependent on China, your foreign policy may become skewed,” Wu told RFE/RL in an exclusive interview in Prague on Oct. 27. “If you think that you depend on China, your actions, or your policies, your behaviors need to be [cautious] because you don’t want to jeopardize your business opportunities.”

 

Part of Wu’s diplomatic pitch, RFE/RL reported, is to offer Taiwan as a small, open, and democratic alternative to Beijing’s authoritarian politics, “wolf warrior” tactics, and so-called “debt-trap diplomacy” that has become associated with Chinese investment across the world, from Africa to Central Asia.

 

For smaller countries with fewer strategic interests in China, there might be very little Beijing can do in retaliation — especially if the EU states back each other up. Lithuania, for example, is not expected to suffer major economic consequences from fewer economic links to China than a country like Poland or Serbia.

 

HRWF Footnote

 

Zsuzsa Anna FERENCZY Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan

Research Fellow at Academia Sinica

Non-resident Fellow, Taiwan Next Generation Foundation 

Research Associate and Affiliated Scholar, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Consultant on China, Taiwan, Korea at Human Rights Without Frontiers 

Former Political Adviser at the European Parliament

Head of Associates Network, 9DASHLINE

email: zsuzsaaferenczy@gmail.com

zsuzsa@9dashline.com

twitter: @zsuzsettte

 

 

Some of her publications while in Taiwan

The Diplomat:

Time for a Positive EU Policy on Taiwan 

(same article published in FR on APN: Pour une autre politique taïwanase de l’UE 

Will the EU-China Investment Agreement Survive Parliament’s Scrutiny?

 

9dashline:

Standing up to China could help bring Lithuania, the EU and Taiwan closer together

EU approach to TW, from gratitude to support

In brief with Audrey Tang

In brief on Taiwan, EU, China

 

Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique

The European Union and Taiwan: time to re-conceptualize ties

 

China Observers/CHOICE

China, the 17+1 Platform, and Taiwan – a ‘New Stage’?

 

Commonwealth Magazine Taiwan

Why Taiwan remains an integral part of the EU-US cooperation on China

 

Taipei Times:

EU India should engage Taiwan

City diplomacy offers opportunities

EU-China CAI – strategic mistake?

EU needs Taiwan for Asia strategy

Sanctions expose EU-China split

EU needs Taiwan for Asia Strategy

 

Prospect Foundation 

Taiwan’s Tech Prowess and City Diplomacy: Tools to Circumvent Taiwan’s Isolation?

The EU’s Toughening Stance on China, the Role of the EP and CAI – an Analysis

 

Borderlex

Comment: EU-Taiwan relations in the Indo-Pacific – time for an upgrade

 

 

Photo credits: AP





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

CANADA: Taoist tai chi centres in Canada exempted from taxes. TAIWAN: No exemption for Tai Ji Men

Taoist tai chi centres in Canada considered religious and exempted from taxes but it is not the case with Tai Ji Men in Taiwan

Comparative study presented at a websinar co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on 24 October 2021

 

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

HRWF (01.11.2021) – According to international human rights standards, freedom of religion or belief involves

the right to have or not to have a religion or beliefs,

the right to change or to retain one’s religion or beliefs

the right to share one’s religion, beliefs or worldviews and to make new members

the right to freedom of worship and assembly

the right of association

 

Many democratic countries have understood that religious and belief groups can contribute to the well-being of their citizens and of their society, and have granted them some financial advantages, in terms of tax exemption for example.

 

Canada is one of those democratic countries which has a broad-minded approach of the usefulness of religions as a recent court ruling has shown.

 

In September last, the High Court in Quebec, District of Montreal, ruled in a case opposing the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism to the city of Montreal that Taoist Tai Chi, as developed by a Toronto-area monk, is a religion and its centres should be tax free.

 

Consequently, the Court ordered three cities – Montreal, Sherbrooke and Longueil – to provide exemption from property, municipal and school taxes to their centres and to reimburse taxes already paid by the three branches of the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism.

 

The applicants were seeking exemption on the grounds that Taoist tai chi as practised, taught and disseminated in Canada by the Chinese monk Moy Lin-Shin was to be regarded as a religion rather than an institute for physical exercise. It is also to be noted that the Taoist Tai Chi Institute offers classes in return for payment and that many of those paying fees to take tai chi classes are not really Taoist adherents.

 

 

 

About the religious character of the objects of the Taoism Institute

 

The objects of the Taoism Institute are:

 

“(a)  To establish, maintain and conduct Taoist temples and shrines following the teachings of the Taoist religion and to carry on the teachings and practices of the Taoist religion;

(b)  To conduct public or private meetings of a religious nature such as religious services;

(c)   To establish, maintain and conduct classes on Taoist philosophy and religion, and related subjects, for the education of the general public; and

(d) To promote awareness and understanding of Taoist philosophy and Chinese culture”

 

 

Further, the information on the trademark for Taoist Tai Chi granted in 2012 by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office included a list of its services which were all of religious, spiritual and cultural nature such as ceremonies, teachings, training, meetings and exhibitions, seminars, workshops, classes, social and cultural activities.

 

The Quebec Court facing the question “What constitutes a religion and a religious institution?”

 

The court’s 50-page opinion includes a lengthy discussion on what is a religion and what is a religious institution. In the light of its conclusion, it had to answer two concrete questions:

 

  • Should Taoist Tai chi , as practiced, taught and disseminated in Canada by the Chinese monk Moy Lin-Shin (“master Moy”), be regarded as a religion in its own right rather than for proper gymnastics to promote internal balance and health?
  • Does the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism, which offers classes or sessions of tai chi for a monetary contribution from the participants, qualify as a religious institution within the meaning of the law allowing it to benefit in Quebec from an exemption from property taxes?

 

Judge Yergeau acknowledged that tax authorities have to be careful about the (claimed) religious character of some groups because some of them just want to avoid paying taxes and are not religious in nature.

To make that distinction in the tax dispute, he drew largely on the evidence put forward by two academic experts: the one representing the Taoist Institute argued that Tai chi is a religion and the other one representing the three municipalities disagreed.

 

Members of major monotheistic faiths such as Judaism and Islam study texts like the Torah and Koran but Taoists pursue their beliefs through bodily activity such as rituals and meditation, according to the Institute’s expert, Canadian professor James Miller of China’s Duke Kunshan University.

 

As to the three cities’ expert, Prof. Frédéric Castel of the University of Quebec at Montreal, argued that the Institute is not a religion because it lacks a community of worshippers with shared beliefs. Most of the people who attend the centres are there for physical exercise, do not to pursue Taoism, the cities’ expert told the court.

 

While the Institute reports 2,000 members in Quebec, the latest census data indicates that only 280 people in the province identify as Taoists.

 

the institute is no less a religion because a larger number of people are only there for tai chi, he said. Most of those who visit Chartres Cathedral in France, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or the Saihō-ji temple in Kyoto are tourists who do not practise those religions, but that doesn’t mean the sites themselves are not religious, the judge said.

 

Slightly complicating the matter, the three Quebec centres — in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Longueuil — were run by a different Taoist tai chi organization until 2013 and had been granted a separate tax exemption, one for non-profit organizations offering sporting activities.

 

But Fung Loy Kok wanted to be officially considered a religion and to be entitled to the tax exemption as such, not as a non-profit association, according to the Institute’s lawyer, Jonathan Fecteau.

 

Asking for a religious release instead “was not a decision that was guided by financial considerations,” he said in an interview. “It’s a decision that was guided by the direction my client is taking and how it would like to be perceived by the public.”

At the end of the hearing of the two experts and the lawyers’ arguments, the Court came to the conclusion that both the first and the second of the two concrete questions were to be answered in the affirmative.

 

In conclusion, in Canada, a court

 

  • organized a hearing of two experts with conflicting views about the religious nature of the Taoist Institute;
  • recognized the Institute as a religious organization after the said hearing;
  • forced the administration of three cities not only to grant the Institute tax exemption on the income generated by tai chi classes to Taoist adherents and non-Taoists but also to reimburse the illegally levied taxes to the Institute.

 

In Taiwan, for 25 years, the taxation administration

 

  • has been turning a deaf ear to outside experts and has not consulted any
  • has ignored all the court rulings and even the Supreme Court
  • has illegally imposed taxes and auctioned Tai Ji Men’s property instead of abiding by court decisions, apologizing and reimbursing Tai Ji Men.

 

This is the difference between a full-fledged democracy and a democracy which has not got rid yet of the ghosts of its dictatorial past.

 

Photo credits: Paul Morden/Postmedia





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

TAIWAN: Commemorating the U.N. International Day of Non-Violence and the Tai Ji Men case

U.N. International Day of Non-Violence and the Tai Ji Men case

See the video: https://youtu.be/SJYu3B1FmN0

HRWF (22.10.2021) – On 1 October, CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) organized a webinar to celebrate the UN International Day of Non-Violence due to take place on the next day. On this occasion, HRWF presented a paper about a case of violation of freedom of peaceful demonstration and expression in Taiwan related to the case of Tai Ji Men.

 

In late August 2020, Taiwan’s Administrative Enforcement Agency and National Taxation Bureau (NTB) arbitrarily seized and auctioned the land belonging to Dr Hong Tao-tze, Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy’s founder and spiritual leader, while the land was intended for a self-cultivation center for Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples).

  

This forcible intervention of the Enforcement Agency and Taxation Bureau was allegedly due to a tax bill dating back to 1992, despite this bill having been recognized as an unjustified tax disposition by Taiwanese courts. This act of administrative violence has remained unpunished up to now.

 

Some suspect that there was a profit-making objective behind this auction. 

 

The peaceful demonstration and arrest of Ms Huang

 

On 19 September 2020, a volunteer for the Legal and Tax Reform League and Tai Ji Men member, Ms Huang, used her right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Taiwan to question and denounce the lucrative nature of this auction. This 60-year-old housewife and a mother of two children was about to peacefully promote taxpayer’s rights on the street with others while holding a sign with enforcement officer Lee Gui-fen’s name on it when she was surrounded by several police officers.

 

The officers stopped the demonstration when it just started. Without any justified reason, they demanded that Ms. Huang present her ID.

 

When other volunteers politely asked whether they were in a restricted area where individuals are prohibited from holding signs promoting their ideas and why they were questioning Ms Huang, the police did not respond. Instead, they asked that everyone show their IDs and ordered the volunteers to leave. They also threatened that anyone recording the scene would be questioned or detained in the police station for three hours. By disrupting the voluntary and peaceful promotion of taxpayer’s rights, the authorities deprived these individuals of their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

 

The volunteers finally cooperated and provided their IDs. The police officers checked them and didn’t take any further action against Ms Huang. But thirty minutes later, the police officers surrounded Ms Huang again while she no longer had the sign with Lee Gui-fen’s name on it. They searched the bag belonging to another volunteer without a search warrant or her consent. One of the police officers discovered a poster with Lee Gui-fen’s name on it, forced Ms Huang to hold it visibly and claimed that they caught her red-handed. Moreover, even when Ms. Huang and other volunteers asked what crime Ms. Huang had committed, the police did not tell her at all, and they arrested her directly. The volunteers did not know where Lee Gui-fen lives, and they simply were holding the signs by the roadside or on an empty lot. However, the Chief of the Zhubei Branch, Hsinchu County Police Department, Hsieh, Po-Hsien had publicly stigmatized the volunteers many times, claiming that the volunteers went inside the residence of a civil servant, Lee Gui-fen, to slander her by name, endangering the personal safety of her family members. Such accusations are grossly false and unfounded.

 

Ms Huang was taken to the Liu-Jia police station in Zhubei by more than a dozen police officers without being informed of the charges against her until the investigation.

 

During the interrogation at the police station, Ms Huang was treated with complete disrespect. She was accused of publicly defaming a public servant, Lee Gui-fen.

 

In the meantime, a group of peaceful protesters gathered outside the police station. One of them, Dr. Tze-Lung Chen, former professor of law at National Taiwan University, repeatedly asked why they had arrested Ms Huang. The police refused to answer, claiming they could not comment on an ongoing prosecutorial investigation despite it only being a police investigation. Professor Chen accused the police officers of abusing their power and urged them to release Ms Huang as there was no written complaint of her alleged defamation or intimidation.

 

However, instead the police transferred her to the Prosecutor’s Office. With no regard for her age nor physical and mental state of health, she was deprived of her freedom and interrogated for nearly eight hours in the police station and prosecutor’s office. She was not released by the Prosecutor until 1 am and the prosecutor imposed a restriction on her residence.

 

During the interrogation, many angry volunteers wanted to press charges against the police for illegally arresting Ms Huang, but the prosecutor refused to accept them.

 

The arrest caused immense mental and physical distress for Ms Huang. After hours of interrogation, first at the police station and then at the Prosecutor’s Office, she fainted and was sent to hospital. A doctor there diagnosed her with acute stress and trauma syndrome.

 

Photo credits: United Nations

 





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

TAIWAN: Taxation abuse against Tai Ji Men, a breach of freedom of association

Taxation abuse against Tai Ji Men is an infringement of freedom of association

The bonus system, an incitement to fabricate tax evasion cases

 

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

HRWF (22.10.2021) – Taxation abuse in Taiwan has become a human rights issue as it infringes the right of association recognized by the constitution. The most emblematic example of this egregious violation is the Tai Ji Men case, which has been dragging on for 25 years.

 

In April 1997, Dr Hong Tao-tze, the founder and spiritual master of Tai Ji Men, was indicted by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen for alleged tax evasion concerning manual donations for the years from 1991 to 1996 by dizi to their shifu. This practice had been forever recognized as non-taxable and donations had always been tax exempt in the case of Tai Ji Men. The nature of the relationship between Tai Ji Men’s shifu and his dizi has remained unchanged since the inception of the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy 55 years ago; however, illegal taxes and heavy penalites were imposed on Tai Ji Men for the six years based on the unlawful indictment. It took Dr Hong ten years to be declared not-guilty of tax evasion and all the defendants were acquitted on final appeal in July 2007. Since the court has ruled that no tax is owed, the tax bills should be revoked according to the law.

 

On the one hand, Prosecutor Hou, who was the driving force of arbitrary prosecution, lost his face and on the other hand officials of the National Taxation Bureau (NTB) and the Administrative Enforcement Agency (AEA) lost financial advantages for losing the case at the Supreme Court. However, artificially and illegally, the two state institutions maintained their prosecution against Tai Ji Men for an allegedly unpaid tax on dizi’s donations to their shifu dating back to 1992, despite the fact that, in July 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the donations were gifts, which were tax-exempt income and nontaxable. In addition, the Supreme Administrative Court of Taiwan concluded that its previous final judgment for 1992 tax bill had failed to take into account new facts and evidence, and that the 1992 tax decision is unjustifed. The consequence of this administrative abuse was that in late August 2020, Taiwan’s Administrative Enforcement Agency and National Taxation Bureau arbitrarily seized and auctioned the land intended for a self-cultivation center for Tai Ji Men dizi

 

At a webinar co-organized on 1 October by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers, Mei-Jiuan Huang, a former tax officer, denounced the mechanisms arbitrarily used and abused by the NTB hierarchy to protect the bonuses they can get from successful prosecutions but also to fabricate alleged fraud cases for financial benefits.

 

Excerpts from Mei-Jiuan Huang’s testimony

 

“The set of guidelines for tax collection bonuses is merely an administrative rule, not a law or decree. When a government agency creates a rule and sends it to the Ministry of Finance for approval, it will be sent to the Executive Yuan, which will publicize it and make it official, once it has been authorized by the Ministry of Finance. Everyone, including high-ranking officials, wants to advance in their careers and earn more money. The officials are concerned about their job performance because it affects their future. Their subordinates follow their lead because they care about their job success. A bonus is awarded based on job performance, and the amount of bonuses awarded is not even close to what tax officers obtain from bonuses for collecting tax penalties.

 

Legislator Shing-Yu Chu proposed to abolish the bonuses for auditing taxes in 2003, some guidelines for tax collection bonuses were changed in 2005. Chang Sheng-ford, the then chief of National Taxation Bureau of Taipei, once said, ‘A tax officer’s salary is not enough to maintain integrity.’ Of course, some people would want to get tax collection bonuses and allow tax officers to get the bonuses. I think this bonus system should be abolished completely.”

 

A tax collection bonus based on performance?

 

A tax collector must perform various administrative tasks in addition to tax auditing. Every year, his or her performance will be assessed. If the job performance evaluation is included, he or she will receive a bonus based on job performance after the evaluation. Tax officers are reviewing cases, and if they do so well, they will receive high performance evaluations, which will result in significant bonuses for collecting tax penalties.

 

In addition, the bonus system can be used by all employees in the taxation bureau. Workers at the service counter, for example, are evaluated depending on the number of people they serve and the number of consumer complaints they receive each year. Anti-corruption officers are responsible for monitoring and investigating corruption cases.

 

Everyone can share the bonuses, including drivers, IT employees, and individuals in all administrative areas; therefore, the amount each person receives is not big. However, the total figure is huge due to the vast number of people that split the bonuses. As a result, we still have to set aside a significant sum for the annual bonuses, which are largely meaningless and have not improved the quality of service. They should be completely removed.”

 

Is there a link between the bonuses and the over-collection of taxes?

 

”Every year, the tax authority will assess a staff member’s auditing performance. If a staff member manages a thousand businesses, for example, a projected annual tax revenue has already been established for that staff member. The budget for bonuses is set based on the previous year’s budget, and it is then increased by 10% or 20% the next year. If the economy is sluggish, tax revenue will suffer as a result.

 

If the tax income collected for this year does not meet the expected amount, the staff member’s performance score will be low, and the staff member will not receive a tax collection bonus.

 

As a result, individuals in high positions will encourage their employees to collect more taxes in order to improve their performance score. So, didn’t I just say that if a tax officer didn’t obtain enough tax money in his area, he’d approach some large corporations for help? He’ll ask those huge corporations to pay more in December, and they’ll seek refunds in January the next year, claiming that they made a mistake the year before.

 

This way, the previous year’s budget will be met, and the tax refund granted the next year will have no effect on the prior year’s number. This technique has resulted in what is known as tax over-collection, which is linked to the bonus system.

 

Tax officers must work hard to discover more people and firms on whom they may impose higher taxes in order to meet their performance targets and be included on the so-called list of awardees, from which they can be recognized and paid with bonuses, so it’s all connected.”

 

 

The Tai Ji Men case and the tax collection manipulation

 

“The National Taxation Bureau collaborated with Hou Kuan-jen and the Investigation Bureau’s Field Office on this case, which was initiated by Hou Kuan-jen and the Field Office. A bonus was given to someone who reported the Tai Ji Men case to the Field Office. I’ve worked on a case that was sent from the Field Office, and my initial plan was to investigate the case by sending a letter to the appropriate agency. My unit leader, on the other hand, chastised me, telling me that there was no need to examine a case sent from the Field Office and that I could simply issue a tax bill based on the data transferred from the Field Office.

 

They don’t want us to investigate because they’re scared we’ll deal with the violator in private if we do, so we’re not authorized to. Many tax authorities will not review cases sent by the Field Office and will issue tax bills directly based on the information they provide. That’s why Shih Yueh-sheng, the tax collector, didn’t look into it. It was because it had been customary for a long time. The Investigation Bureau’s Field Office is quite powerful, and it has a so-called anti-corruption unit. The anti-corruption unit is the most feared by tax officers since it can track people by following them. It’s terrifying because no one wants to be watched, bugged, or followed at any time, thus no one will examine a case sent from the Field Office.

 

However, I believe that the Field Office is in charge. If it chooses to target a specific individual, that individual will be in big trouble. There must be a puppeteer behind the scenes when a tax official handles a case like this. I’m guessing they don’t anticipate to be discovered. It is possible that tax officers are incentivized by bonuses and job performance credits.

 

Taxpayers’ rights, in my opinion, have never been recognized in Taiwan because the taxation practice is the legacy of the authoritarian past. Tax officers, on the whole, have a more authoritarian mindset than their counterparts in other government departments. Many tax authorities would regard people who are referred to as “wealthy” or “business owners” as dishonest businesspeople or “unruly” individuals.

 

When the Tai Ji Men case first started, I overheard a colleague argue that because it was wealthy, we should make it pay taxes. This was not proper, I thought at the time. It is not reasonable to expect someone who is wealthy to pay unjustified taxes. Many tax officers, however, have that mindset. This, I believe, is due to the fact that many people are not awakened even after the martial law is lifted since they have been governed for a long period by an authoritarian system. We were unaware of taxpayers’ rights until the call for the protection of taxpayers’ rights a few years ago.

 

I believe this is an area that we must work diligently to improve since too many individuals are terrified of taxc vvv officials due to their numerous techniques. For example, a tax officer may advise you to pay more unwarranted taxes this month in order to meet his target, and then file a refund the following month claiming a mistake. This is solely for the purpose of improving his job performance score! This isn’t right. People and company owners are burdened by this. We have seen far too many examples of this in the tax authorities, so I believe the public needs to wake up; otherwise, taxpayer rights will never be protected.”

 

Conclusion

 

Such unethical practices are a real threat to the well-being and sometimes the survival of non-profit organizations and private companies.

 

More and more taxpayers denounce the system of bonuses and testified about their dramatic experience at the webinar organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers.

 

The tax agents get promotions and bonuses for issuing illegal tax notices, despite being ordered by the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Control Yuan and Supreme Court to dismiss illegal tax bills, as the Tai Ji Men case shows even after 25 years of legal battles and protests.

 

Pocketing bonuses powerfully encourages greedy bureaucrats to violate the law and has always been a major motivation in ignoring the indications of courts of law.

 

The violators are not punished, nor have they apologized for their wrongdoings.

 

Human Rights Without Frontiers recommends

  • a reform in the Taiwanese judicial system, especially the administrative litigation system;
  • the annulment of the bonus system as it creates incentives that can lead to undue fiscal and judicial harassment;
  • sanctions against those in state administrations and the judiciary who are found to be negligent or to have abused their power.

 

 





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

TAIWAN: Tai Ji Men’s denial of justice as seen by a former judge

Tai Ji Men’s denial of justice as seen by a former judge

On 15 September, Prof. Tsan-Tu Lin, a former judge, analyzed the miscarriage of justice concerning Tai Ji Men during a webinar co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers

See the video on YouTube https://youtu.be/Z6QoKl7KJzE and the background of the case on https://bitterwinter.org/tai-ji-men-and-the-tai-ji-men-case-a-background/

HRWF (22.09.2021) – I used to be a judge and now work as a professor at a university. I’d like to take a judge’s perspective on the Tai Ji Men case. First and foremost, I’d like to discuss the context of the Tai Ji Men case. The first, second, and third criminal decisions all found Tai Ji Men not guilty.

 

The not-guilty decisions show that there isn’t a tax problem. However, taxes were levied on Tai Ji Men by Taiwan’s National Taxation Bureau of the Central Area from 1991 to 1995. No tax should be charged on Tai Ji Men because the not-guilty decisions were issued. They were the same case, for the five tax years. Finally, the years 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995 were declared to be tax-free. The National Taxation Bureau, on the other hand, upheld the 1992 tax bill. This contradicts itself. Since 1992 is no different from the other years, why was Tai Ji Men subjected to taxation for that particular year?

 

The underlying facts for the five years were the same. When the taxation bureau made a mistake, it could revoke the tax bill itself under Article 117 of Taiwan’s Administrative Procedure Act. Even if the tax authorities do not revoke the tax bills on their own, the people can request revocation through Article 128 of Taiwan’s Administrative Procedure Act.

 

There is a question over whether the five-year statute of limitations applies in this case. Our government agencies have clearly made a mistake and should correct it on their own. As a result, the paragraph about Taiwan’s five-year statute of limitations is quite contentious. I believe the law should be altered, particularly when the executive branch makes a mistake that needs to be remedied.

 

There is also the issue of recusal in the 1992 tax case. Tai Ji Men’s appeal was rejected by Judge Huang, who handled the case in a lower court and heard it again in the Supreme Administrative Court. A judge cannot hear the same case in a higher court if he or she participated in judging it in a previous trial, according to Taiwan’s Administrative Litigation Act.  The rationale for this is to keep a judge from being swayed by his or her preconceived notions about a case. To put it another way, it is designed to prevent a judge who has already made a mistake from repeating it in a higher court. It is difficult for a court to make an unbiased conclusion if the same judge hears a litigant’s case in both the first and second trials, and this is a particularly questionable component of the Tai Ji Men case.

 

Despite the fact that a final judgement on the matter was rendered, the National Taxation Bureau of the Central Area had already corrected the taxes to zero for four of the five years. The final decision on the 1992 tax bill is questionable. Why is there a retrial in a court of law for a matter that has already been decided? Judges are human, and they can make mistakes; as a result, we have recourse. To protect people’s basic rights, a judge should not be allowed to judge the same case in both lower and higher courts.

 

An administrative matter will be forwarded to the Administrative Enforcement Agency for enforcement after a decision is made. The requirements of Taiwan’s Compulsory Enforcement Act are implemented since the applicable rules are insufficient. In other words, the auction can only take place if the seizure is legal.

 

The parties have the right to object to the enforcement agency’s enforcement and to express their dissatisfaction with specific features of the enforcement. Tai Ji Men had already communicated its dissatisfaction in the Tai Ji Men case, but the enforcement officers failed to investigate the situation and failed to follow the standard enforcement procedure.

 

This case is completely out of the ordinary, and it raises the question of whether the administrative authorities failed to follow the appropriate rules and regulations when conducting the auctions. This case leads us to believe that the entire process did not adhere to the relevant laws and regulations. As a result, I believe the Enforcement Agency’s handling of the matter was highly problematic.

 

Thanks to Tai Ji Men’s hard-work and advocacy over the years, we hope that the incomplete provisions of the law mentioned earlier can be corrected by amending the law, so that justice can be done to the people.

 

Photo credits: Bitter Winter


Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1261

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1261

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1262

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1262

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1263