Politics | Feb 21

Public Anger Over Politicians' Unpaid Taxes

TOKYO, Feb 21 (News On Japan) - Amid the Liberal Democratic Party's slush fund scandal, taxpayers are voicing their anger, leaving those working at tax filing offices bewildered.

A part-time female employee at a tax office (in her 20s) said, "We were told to refer complaints to the staff, but people still came to us. It's scary to be confronted with such complaints."

She started working part-time at a tax office on the 16th, helping with tax filings. A man suddenly berated her with these words while submitting his documents.

The female employee recalled, "He said something like, 'We're here filing our taxes, why don't Diet members do the same?' and 'Why do we have to pay taxes when Diet members don't?' It was just a quiet murmur."

Confused by the complaint, the woman struggled to respond, "We think it's not right either, but we're not sure where to address this, so maybe speak to a tax officer. We understand the reasons, but it puts us in a difficult position."

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, addressing the nation before the tax filing season, urged, "I ask all taxpayers to file and pay their taxes appropriately according to the law."

With the question, "Isn't slush fund money taxable?" the public's anger is on the verge of exploding. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the current administration.

An 80-year-old said, "The LDP's methods are wrong. I want a proper explanation."

A 70-year-old remarked, "I want them to do the right thing, but my voice doesn't reach them. I have no choice but to comply as it's my duty, but I have nothing but distrust."

In the Diet, the opposition is intensifying its criticism, arguing that slush funds should be taxable.

Constitutional Democratic Party member Kenji Eda said, "Receiving tens of millions of yen in slush funds and not being charged with a crime or accused of tax evasion could lead to a tax revolt."

The LDP announced on the 15th that 85 Diet members had undeclared kickbacks, totaling over 570 million yen.

Constitutional Democratic Party member Yoshinori Suematsu asked, "Did you conduct tax audits on the 85 people who filed amended returns?"

The Deputy Commissioner of the National Tax Agency replied, "I must refrain from answering individual matters."

The National Tax Agency, citing confidentiality obligations, has not disclosed whether tax audits were conducted.

Are tax audits on politicians actually carried out? An expert explains:

Former tax investigator and tax accountant, Hiroshi Matsushima, said, "As they are politicians, it's delicate, and the tax office can't easily conduct an investigation. It's common for assumptions to differ, and if you accuse someone of tax evasion and it turns out to be false, politicians will fight back, and it could become a big issue given their prominence. There are certainly concerns."

Furthermore, political funds collected by political organizations are generally tax-exempt, and it's challenging to clarify whether the expenditures were for political activities or personal use, making tax audits on politicians difficult.

As for the woman who received complaints, she's bracing for more in the future.

The female employee said, "It hurts a bit when the tax office is criticized. There's nothing to do but accept it as part of the job."

Regarding politicians who continue to give noncommittal responses to the issue of "politics and money"...

The female employee added, "They should fulfill their responsibility to explain and act as role models for taxpayers."

Source: ANN

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