The National Tax Service has launched a thorough investigation into several Korean celebrities for possible tax evasion, a local paper said Wednesday.
The NTS’ Gangnam office is looking over at least seven wealthy celebrities’ income reports for tax loophole exploitation, the report said.
Speculations rose that the large-scale probe was targeting stars who own properties in Seoul’s posh Gangnam district.
“Tax investigation into celebrities is nothing new. It’s part of a bigger probe into rich real estate owners, and high paid businessmen,” an NTS official explained, refraining from providing details about the ongoing probe.
While rumors are running wild about who may be under the investigation, Hallyu actor Jang Keun-suk’s agency confirmed that the star was questioned for allegedly underreporting his income in China, estimated at worth 2 billion won ($1.9 million).
In 2011, Jang was listed as the youngest rich real estate owner in Korea after acquiring a building in Seoul’s fashion district Cheongdam, worth about 10 billion won.
The large-scale probe comes on the back of the news of actress Song Hye-kyo, who was slammed for her 2.5 billion won tax evasion fiasco.
Song, who owns real estate properties worth 10 billion won in the country and 2 billion won-3 billion won in the U.S., immediately apologized last month, saying that the violation was made by her accountant without her knowledge.
According to Chaebul.com, a website that tracks the wealth of the rich, entertainment powerhouse SM Entertainment CEO Lee Soo-man, YG Entertainment CEO Yang Hyun-suk and singer Seo Tae-ji ranked top three on the value of real estate holdings among Korean entertainment figures.
Actress Jun Ji-hyun, actor Song Seung-hun and singer Rain followed, with the total value of their properties ranging between 11 billion won and 13.1 billion won.
The tax probes come less than one month after the newly appointed National Tax Service Commissioner Lim Hwan-soo vowed to rectify the tax-dodging practices of conglomerates and upper-bracket tax payers.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org