President Moon pledged to increase the corporate tax rate when he was a candidate for the presidency, and now he is fulfilling his pledge. For about 10 years, since 2008 when the corporate tax rate was lowered from 25% to 22%, the tax system was enforced biased to the general public, not to the big business. It was expected that companies would use funds formed from the decrease of the corporate tax rate to create new investment and employment and that profits would go to the public. However, the result fell short of expectations. By raising abnormally low corporate taxes, it is necessary to pursue balanced development of households and businesses and regain stability in securing tax revenue.
First, the problem of taxation equity can be solved. According to the Tax Finance Reform Center, the share of household income in national income decreased from 64.8% in 2005 to 62.1% in 2016, while corporate income rose from 21.3% to 24.1% over the same period. In addition, while income tax revenue, including personal and business income, increased by 116% in 2014 compared to 2005, corporate tax revenue increased by 43% during the same period. In other words, the income tax burden of ordinary households has increased due to the corporate tax reduction policy, despite the fact that household income as a percentage of national income has decreased. Securing tax revenue concentrated on income tax will inevitably make it difficult for the government to expand its budget. Therefore, the increase of corporate tax can help secure financial resources. According to a report by Professor Park Ki-baek and Jeon Byeong-wook of the University of Seoul, raising the maximum tariff of the corporate tax rate to 25% would result in a tax revenue of more than 7.4 trillion won when the standard of assessment is applied to companies with more than one billion won in revenue. This has a much greater tax increase than when income tax is increased. By raising the corporate tax rate, redistribution of income that helps the welfare of the working class and middle class can be realized.
Second, the effective tax rates are somewhat lower than the nominal tax rate. The effective tax rate happens when taxpayers pay lower taxes than the legal tax rate under various tax deductions or exemption plans. The opponents of increasing corporate taxes argue that increasing corporate taxes will put more pressure on companies and damage to workers, but in fact, Korea's effective tax rate remains the lowest among OECD countries. Korea's effective tax rate stood at 16.6 percent in 2016 and 18 percent in 2017, which is below the OECD average of 21.8 percent. (In fact, as of 2016, Korea's maximum corporate tax rate (22%) is also lower than that of OECD member countries at 22.5%.) Furthermore, the argument that the increase of corporate tax goes against the global trend of lowering corporate tax, including in the U.S. and in Japan, doesn’t apply to Korea. In 2017, the effective tax rate in the U.S. was 34.9 percent, twice that of Korea. This shows that Korea’s corporate tax rate is still low by any measure.
Third, the trickle-down effect by lowering corporate tax has little effect. The trickle-down effect means that if the profits of large corporations and high-income brackets are increased by corporate tax cuts, the benefits will also be given to small businesses and citizens. According to a report released in 2015 by the Institute for Economic Reform, in the case of the four major domestic business groups (Samsung, Hyundai Motors, SK, and LG), the share of operating surplus and depreciation costs attributable to the companies and its shareholders was higher at 61 %, while labor costs were only 37.3 %. The nation's top 50 companies also have 56.4 % of the added value attributable to the companies and its shareholders. Through this result, we can see that important values are more focused on businesses. Also, Park Ki-baek, a professor at the University of Seoul, said that in the analysis of actual proof, there is no significant result that the higher the corporate tax rate, the less investment there is. According to Jeong Seong-hoon, a professor at the Catholic University of Daegu, the net profit of 1835 listed companies rose 115 % in 2014 from 2008, but the portion of investment declined 0.2 percent. Also, the company's reserve money increased from 36.6 trillion won in 2008 to 845 trillion won in 2014 while investment decreased. So, the opposition’s argument that corporate investment through corporate tax reduction could help the company develop is still questionable.
The opposition is against increasing the corporate tax rate as a result of the global trend towards decreasing corporate tax rates and argues that the increase in corporate tax will adversely affect investment and job creation. However, the increase and reduction of the corporate tax rate varies depending on the environment of each country. Currently, in Korea, large companies are satisfying only their own appetites with their reserves and the ordinary people have a huge tax burden. Given the unfair taxation problem and the effect of increasing tax revenues, it is appropriate to increase corporate tax. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >