SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a controversial law revision that imposes income taxes on clergy members.
Under the revision to the Income Tax Law, religious leaders, such as the clergy, priests and Buddhist monks, will pay income taxes starting in 2018.
There has been heated disputes among the religious circle, with some claiming they should not be subject to taxation as their work is a spiritual service, not labor.
Catholic priests have been voluntarily paying income taxes since the mid-1990s, and a growing number of religious leaders have expressed their intention to pay taxes on their earnings.
Separately, the Cabinet also approved a motion to use taxpayers’ money to pay outstanding hospital bills for treating Seok Hae-kyun, then captain of the South Korean freighter Samho Jewelry, who was shot multiple times by Somali pirates.
The bills amounting to 167 million won (US$155,000) have been left unpaid as the shipping company was driven into insolvency. Seok has been hailed as a hero due to his contribution to supporting successful naval rescue operations.
In 2011, South Korean Navy commandos raided the South Korean freighter that had been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea, rescuing all 21 crew members, including Seok, and killing eight pirates.