Taipei, December 19, 2017
With an aging population, low birth rate, and serious brain drain, Taiwan finds its young people stuck in a difficult situation, many of whom dare not to get married and have children. Various generations, including impoverished youth, people in their thirties, and senior citizens at the bottom of society, pushed empty strollers on the Ketagalan Blvd. They wore masks with words like “lost, anxious, poor, miserable, and sad” on them, accusing the government of depriving them of a bright future. The people of Taiwan face many challenges, including rising prices, shrinking wages, surplus in tax revenue from illegal tax collection, widespread illegal taxation practices, and increasing number of businesses that closed or left the country. A band composed of young impoverished aboriginal people and a league of 30 young motorcycle riders gathered on Ketagalan Blvd at 11:00 a.m. on the 19th. The riders carried flags with words such as “Terminate never-ending tax bills,” ‘Against surplus in tax revenue from unlawful tax collection,” ”Abolishing tax collection rewards,” ”I want to survive,” on their motorcycles as they traveled around the city of Taipei, promoting the idea of legal and tax reform.
The average wage in Taiwan has shrunk to that of 17 years ago. The average wage in Beijing is about NT$46,000, more than that in Taipei. Recently, the foreign direct investment (FDI) only accounts for 14.2 % of Taiwan’s GDP, far lower than the average of 35 % in other countries. Additionally, foreign investments in Taiwan are mainly short-term investments in stocks or currencies; few of them have built factories in Taiwan. Experts and scholars went on the stage to analyze tax cases of injustice because unlawful and unreasonable taxation has caused business to close, industries to fail, people to lose jobs, and foreign companies to leave Taiwan or feel afraid to enter the country. Many people expressed their rage: with such tax officials, we don’t need enemies to bring us down.
The Legal and Tax League collected many true stories of victims of unlawful taxation and played a video about Su-Lei Lo, a former legislator. In the video, she mentioned that over 10 years ago, a tax case of injustice totally destroyed Taiwan’s copper industry and caused nearly 1600 people to lose their jobs. Afterwards, the taxation bureau realized that it was wrong, but the damage was irreversible. There was a big publicly traded company, a manufacturer of copper and aluminum (the second largest in Asia), in Taiwan, and almost all of its products were exported overseas. According to the tax code, the company could receive refunds in business taxes. In the course of producing its products, it sold its leftover bits and pieces to 8 smaller companies. A tax agent found that the company had invoices to and from the 8 companies. Without real evidence, the tax agent fabricated the amount of transactions for the company and refused to refund taxes to the company. The tax bureau even transferred the tax case to an investigation agency. The news broke, and banks stopped lending money to the company. The company went bankrupt, and so did the other eight; consequently, nearly 1600 people lost their jobs.