Gov't mulls tax cuts for golfers on cue from president

By KH디지털2
  • Published : Feb 4, 2015 - 15:42
  • Updated : Feb 4, 2015 - 16:19

The government is weighing various measures to vitalize golf, an official said Wednesday, quickly picking up a cue from President Park Geun-hye who a day earlier said the sport should be played more.

The senior official said a meeting with the related ministries will be held soon to check on what can be done.

"Lowering taxes has been one of the main demands by golfers and country clubs in the past," said the finance ministry insider, who declined to be identified. Lowering golf-related taxes has been one of the main demands made by golfers in the past.

The ministry, however, said that while it will discuss the matter with other ministries, it is not looking at lowering excise or other related taxes. The excise rate alone currently stands at 21,120 won ($19.30) per person for each round.

Park told Cabinet ministers at a weekly meeting Tuesday that despite what people may believe, she never opposed government officials play golf.

Golf is viewed as a sport for the affluent in South Korea, especially since country club memberships are so pricey and round fees are high. The country does not have many public golf courses.

Some previous presidents explicitly forbid government officials from playing golf, saying public servants should not be playing a sport of the rich, especially when social and economic conditions were not upbeat.

President Park is the honorary chairman of this year's Presidents Cup, slated for the fall in the western port city of Incheon. It is the biennial event's first venture into Asia.

At the time the president made the remarks, Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan claimed that excise taxes on golf rounds turn away players.

He, however, made clear to lawmakers Wednesday that he is not looking at tax options.

Opponents of any moves to lower taxes have argued that taking such a step on a sport viewed as exclusive will not get much support, especially since even the new leadership of the ruling Saenuri Party has called for raising taxes on the rich and large conglomerates so more money can be collected to pay for the country's growing welfare expenses. (Yonhap)