Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Unmotivated HK Taxman

Hong Kong has a number of individuals and entities listed in these documents
Since the Panama Papers have revealed a number of individuals and entities from Hong Kong -- 26,000 of them or 7 percent of the total 366,000 overseas shell companies, the Hong Kong government doesn't seem to be outraged.

Development minister Paul Chan is one of them...
Some of them are even in Leung Chun-ying's own administration -- development minister Paul Chan Mo-po, and Executive Council member Bernard Chan. Others include failed chief executive contender Henry Tang Yin-yen, several lawmakers like Michael Tien Puk-sun and Paul Tse Wai-chun, the Kwok brothers, Raymond, Thomas and Walter, who run Sun Hung Kai Properties, and action star Jackie Chan.

Only accountancy lawmaker Kenneth Leung is sounding the alarm, saying the revelations are shocking and has urged the tax authorities to follow up.

But probably even more outrageous is the laid-back attitude of the Inland Revenue Department. The commissioner Wong Kuen-fai said the department would follow up, but said that not all off-shore firms are involved in tax evasion.

Would it not hurt to just check?

... so is Executive Council member Bernard Chan...
In the past five years, reports of evasion and avoidance have increased 25 percent to 1,900 cases, but the number of probes by the Inland Revenue Department fell from 1,920 to 1,800.

There are also fewer investigators working on cases, from 257 in 2001-2002 to 240 in 2014-2015, but strangely the budget for the department has jumped in the same period from HK$168.6 million to HK$213 million.

With the revelations of Hong Kong having so many off-shore companies set up by Mossack Fonseca, one would think the authorities would like to clean house and also try to get more taxes the city is entitled to.

Will Inland Revenue investigate possible cases of tax evasion?
But no, the Inland Revenue Department doesn't seem to care much, if at all... why investigate their bosses and powerful tycoons?

If one wants to find a sign of Hong Kong declining, that's one of them. Why even bother having rule of law at all if people with the means aren't enforcing them?




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