Paying tax before the work permit arrives

Hi everyone

I understand that in the ‘olden days’ it didn’t matter where you worked, or on what visa, so long as you paid your taxes. Now that they are cross-checking incomes I wonder whether they are also cross checking visas and work permits too?

Here’s my situation:

I work at a private High School, which as a certified teacher I am legally allowed to do. I arrived in mid Oct last year, and started working (quasilegally / ilegally?) while my work permit was being processed, which took about one and a half months.

My employer (ESL Dewey) tried to double-tax me at the time, and it took hours on the phone to explain that I understood the rules and insist they tax me correctly; otherwise I’d be out by thousands by now, but that’s another story. So I’ve audited everything carefully since. I occasionally find “mistakes” (always obviously deliberate, and of course always in their favour) but they always apologize and pay me what they owe as soon as I find it. So when they asked for my passport and ARC, saying that they would go and get my refund and deposit it into my account, I refused, saying that I would do it myself, and asked for the tax receipt.

They just gave me my tax receipt on Monday (9th June). They have only registered tax for December (after I got the work permit, which makes sense) but they deducted tax for October and November, before I got my work permit. (Interestingly, last year I had to be very persistant to get pay receipts showing my income and deductions.) They have not responded to my questions about this.

I would like to go down to the tax department with my tax form and their pay receipts for the months they deducted tax but did not declare it and tell the tax department everything which has happened.

My questions

  1. Will the tax department chase up Dewey for the tax on my earnings before I got my work permit?

  2. Will the tax department fine or deport me for working before my work permit arrived, given that I am qualified for the job and got the permit without any problems?

Any thoughts or ideas would be much appreciated. Sorry if this has been covered before, but I can’t find anything since the rules have changed.

Thank you.


It would make me uncomfortable.

The only information I have of a similar, though not exactly the same, situation is a former co-worker who had some income tax paid by a company that was not on his ARC and for that reason they refused to renew his ARC.

Probably not. To the best of my knowledge, it is not the Tax Bureau which cares about illegal work. And given that you did eventually get the work permit and have a valid permit now, it is not the Immigration Bureau which cares either. What I have seen in the past year is that the Council of LABOR Affairs has been strict; the next time you go to get your work permit renewed, they may and probably will ask for a certificate of tax paid. If the total income on that doesn’t match the amount on your contract, you have a serious problem. So by insisting on adding the pre-permit income to your total income you would be creating a serious problem that does not now exist.

Rather than risking having your next work permit application rejected (at a minimum) or even having a huge fine assessed or being deported, I would drop this, find a better employer, and chalk it up to experience.

Thanks Craig and Dragonbones

It got more complicated today. Part of the problem is that Dewey (who are a dodgey but I believe liscenced) company, have some strange arangement where they pay me and do everything, but my school is my official employer (on my ARC). I think it’s quasi-legal, to use that word again. The fact that I have two contracts - one real one with Dewey and a token one with the school, suggests something is up.

Anyway the school gave me the form with only December declared. When I asked the agent (and threatened to go to the tax office with everything) they sent me forms, all in Chinese, and handwritten and not nearly as official looking as the others, saying that they have declared 13000 for me, and the last 2000 (from October) was another “mistake” which they will refund with my next pay cheque (yes I will still be in Taiwan, working legally for another school which is taking over my ARC, and ready to go to the CLA for my final salary, bonus etc).

So, I now have a well-presented form showing 6000 from the school, a “bank form” showing 13000. The school says that the 13000 will come up from my ARC. I expect that the amount they say probably matches the amount on the token (otherwise meaningless) contract I signed with the school.

Thanks for your advice. I won’t mention the October tax, from before my ARC arrived - I’ll just accept the money back. I think I’ll believe them with these forms, or hope that if they have done something dodgey, I can plead innocence by not understanding the forms.

I think I’m almost sorted, and will post results afterwards. But any further advice would be appreciated if I’m doing anything wrong.


Just a quick update in case anyone else finds themself in a similar situation and finds this useful, which I doubt.

I didn’t take it to the tax department. But because this is something black and white I can pin on a company which rips off hundreds of qualified teachers new to Taiwan, I tried my luck at pursuing it through the CLA.

A CLA counselor is looking into the relationship between the agent (ESL Dewey) and schools, and what I can do to get back money which they took as “tax” and never declared (or returned) and about them giving me my tax form too late (because they didn’t want me to see my own tax records because they’d pocketed my “tax”). I’ll post results when they come.


Hi everyone

Just another update in case anyone else finds this post in the future (no advice is sought now):

Before I left Taiwan, I did go to the tax department, and show them absolutely everything. (I was willing to be deported in the worst case scenario, or more likely it seemed to be refused a work permit in the future.) I’m now back in Taiwan and have got a new work permit (forunatey for a reputable international school, and not through any agency at all, let alone Dewey).

The result:

  1. Did the tax department inform immigration, or did anyone care that I worked before I got my work permit: NO.
  2. Did the tax department care that Dewey had withheld tax from me, kept it (failed to declare it to them) and then paid some back to me in cash, and (as it seemed) pocketed the rest: NO.
    They advised me of a seperate department with whom I could lay a seperate complaint, but they themselves could only refund me what had officially been declared. I got the feeling that laying such a complaint with them at the time would be futile, and was advised as much by a trusted source.
  3. Did anything or anyone prevent me from getting a new work permit once back: NO.

And it turned out, as I found out from a helpful temporary staff member when I collected my tax refund (the little which was actually properly declared) that they did declare the remaining disputed amount, but were so late in doing so - perhaps when they realised they’d been caught double dipping - that it did not get onto that year’s tax report. Apparently I can get it next year, but I won’t hold my breath.

If anyone has any similar issues (with Dewey or another company) feel free to PM me.