Taiwan premier-designate rejects tax evasion allegations

DPP poll shows lack of confidence in Jiang Cabinet

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Premier-designate Jiang Yi-huah rejected allegations from Wealth Magazine Wednesday that he misreported his assets and failed to pay inheritance tax.
The Presidential Office announced late last Thursday that Jiang, currently vice premier, would take over the Cabinet’s top post from Sean Chen, who offered his resignation for health reasons. Chen’s government will officially resign on Thursday and Jiang’s Cabinet will be sworn in after the Lunar New Year holiday, on February 18.
According to Wealth, Jiang reported a second-floor apartment in a Taipei building on his official government asset reports as having been donated by his father. However, in city government filings, the property was listed as having been ‘sold and bought’ in March 2000, the magazine reported.
Jiang released a statement rejecting the allegations, saying his father had given him the property, where the politician currently lives, and the inheritance tax had been paid. He also issued a document which reportedly showed he had made all the legally required payments.
His father gave him the property in March 2000, and by the end of May of that year, the necessary amount of inheritance tax, fixed at NT$292,142 (US$9,882) had been paid, Jiang’s statement said.
Wealth said that either father and son had conspired to evade paying inheritance taxes and reported the transaction to the city authorities as a sale, or Jiang had misrepresented the deal in his assets report as a donation.
Before 2009, inheritance tax ranged from 4 percent to 50 percent according to the value of the real estate, but in 2009, the government of President Ma Ying-jeou cut the tax to 10 percent.
Wealth Magazine said Jiang had been too busy with the formation of his new Cabinet to give a response to its enquiries before it published the report.
On Wednesday, the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party released an opinion poll showing that only 37.7 percent had confidence in the future premier, while 48.8 percent said they didn’t.
A total of 36.7 percent said Jiang was a suitable choice to head the Cabinet, but 33 percent disagreed. His choice as vice premier, current Transportation Minister Mao Chi-kuo, received support from 29.8 percent of respondents, while 48.9 percent said he was not suitable for the job.
The new economics minister, China Air Lines Chairman Chang Chia-juch, was deemed suitable by 31.7 percent and unsuitable by 42.7 percent, the DPP said.
The public did not have any confidence in the new Cabinet, opposition spokesman Lin Chun-hsien concluded.
The DPP poll also registered public dissatisfaction with the way the Presidential Office had announced the Cabinet reshuffle, with a news release just before midnight. A total of 73 percent of respondents said the method was inappropriate, according to the DPP poll.
At 53, Jiang will be the youngest new premier ever. He has been pictured as a new and unexpected Ma favorite, with recent speculation first naming him as a potential Taipei City mayoral candidate in 2014, or even as a candidate for the presidential ticket in 2016.