Tax evasion and you

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Someone once told me that tax evasion was a way of life in Taiwan. I had never really witnessed it (other than off hand comments from my wife about her father’s dealings and a little bit of sketchy bookeeping from my former school), but the other day I was kind of thrown back on my heels.

So I am working at this nice, up-scale Pre-school/Kindergarten/buxiban in DaAn District. It is a very nice school with influential clientele (so I’m told). I just started my first few days and was talking to the boss and financial person about how pay works. Now get this, they just up and tell me how I’m going to get paid half of my salary on the 15th in cash (under the table) and the rest by direct deposit on the 25th of each month. I wasn’t so much surprised that they were only going to report half of my earning to the government, I was more surprised that they just came out and told me. the whole time they were going on about this I was trying so hard to hold back my amusement and look serious and interested. Haha, they even tried to tell me that they do this because so many teachers were asking for cash advanses on their salaries in the past.

I guess I should be happy that I will only have to pay taxes on half of my income, and my health insurace will be cheaper too. However, I am wondering if I should be concerned now that I know this is going on. Last thing I want is trouble for myself and my family, but you know, it is one of those “everyone else is doing it” mentalities at work here. Anyone else have good tax evasion stories or adivse on this matter?

So long as you or the buxiban doesn’t offend anyone who really feels like making trouble (and I mean really feels like making trouble, as cash payments would be difficult to prove), I can’t see where the tax powers would get into it. They rely solely on the documentation provided to them. As long as you front up at tax time with the appropriate form, which shows appropriate withholding, they won’t ask too many questions, as long as your salary meets the minimum standard for employment as a foreigner on ARC (assuming you’re on an ARC). Then again, the tax folks don’t really care about that, although I’ve been asked casually to explain big changes in my level of income from year to year. A simple “oh, I’m studying Chinese seriously again” or “my husband doesn’t want me to work as much now” or something like that is usually enough for them. They really don’t want to do anything beyond stamping those papers.

I’m neither approving nor disapproving of the setup you describe – just answering the question. And realistically, as a teacher, there’s not much you can do about it. They’re not about to give you accurate documents because that would point up the discrepancy between you and others, so if you want to keep that job, looks like you’ll have to put up with it.

This wouldn’t be a “happy” school, would it?

It certainly is a “happy” school with a lot of “kids”. How did you guess? I’m not too worried about the tax thing, after all my taxes get filed through my Taiwanese wife under her name so whatever income I make, it counts as hers or something like that. Plus, you can’t get busted unless they can prove it as you said. I just thought it was a funny situation, and if you know the boss I’m talking about then it is even funnier. Hoping to pull some more interesting tax evasion stories in Taiwan too.

Hey, I lived around Da’An for years…just was getting those “Happy” vibes off your story based on the description. Never worked for them myself however.

Oh my goodness, this is just wrong, wrong, wrong. I think you better tell the relevant authorities right away.

Actually, this sort of practice was the norm when I worked in Taiwan. It benefits both the boss and the employee.