Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-14 03:58 PM
According to a report in the Chinese-language Next Magazine, the US Internal Revenue Service office in Beijing confirmed that Ma’s green card status made him subject to the provisions of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), forcing him to file taxes to the IRS by July 1 and to provide his overseas accounts for inspection.
In a message received from the Beijing office dated May 13, the IRS said that even if a green card was expired, it did not necessarily mean that the holder was no longer required to pay taxes to the US, Next reported. Even if Ma wanted to get rid of his green card problems, he would still have to pay the tax, amounting to a humiliation for a foreign head of state, Next wrote.
The Presidential Office strongly rejected the report. During his campaign for the presidency in 2008, Ma had made it clear that he had abandoned the green card he had applied for in 1977 to facilitate his studies and work more than 20 years ago, presidential spokeswoman Garfie Lee said Wednesday.
The document had lost its validity because it had not been used for a long time, while each time Ma traveled to the US in the past, he used his Republic of China passport with a US visa applied for at the American Institute in Taiwan offices, Lee said. Then-AIT Director Douglas Paal had also explained that a green card lost its validity if it had not been used for a year after the holder left the US, according to Lee.
The spokeswoman expressed regret at the magazine having misrepresented itself and misled the IRS office about the president’s case. Next sent the letter to the Beijing office under the name of a “Mark Y.J. Ma” who was now supposedly holding a one-year position in the Chinese capital. Both the name and the birthday of the president were wrong, Lee said, adding that the president was willing to step down if he had to pay taxes to the US.
Later in the day, AIT spokesperson Mark Zimmer also rejected the magazine report, saying the comments made by IRS officials in Beijing were not about Ma’s situation specifically. If a green card was not used within the year after the holder left the US, it lost its validity, but only its owner would know, the spokesman reportedly said.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang said that the fact that a president had to pay taxes to a foreign government amounted to a deep humiliation to the nation. If Ma had any sense of responsibility, he should resign immediately, Su said.
Former Premier Frank Hsieh, who was the DPP presidential candidate in 2008, when his campaign first made the green card allegations, said Ma had fooled the people for six years already.
The president asked for apologies from both Su and Hsieh, the presidential spokeswoman said later in the day.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union threatened to sue the president if he did not provide an acceptable explanation within three days.
Ma has been followed for years by allegations and rumors from media and opposition figures that he still held US citizenship and that he was not born in Hong Kong but in China.