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Gifts to Korean children subject to taxes double in 4 years

Korean children have received a combined 1.3 trillion won ($1.1 billion) worth of assets through some 9,700 gifts that are subject to taxation, data showed Wednesday.

The value of the combined assets as of 2018 -- comprising of financial assets, properties and securities -- surged over twofold from that of 2014 at 588.4 billion won, according to data from the National Tax Service compiled by ruling Democratic Party Rep. Yang Hyang-ja. In the same period, the number of taxable gifts rose 92 percent.

From 2014 to 2018, the total value of gifts subject to a gift tax came to 4.1 trilion won, during which tax authorities have collected some 20 percent from asset transfers.

By age, those younger than seven received a total of 305.9 billion won in taxable gifts in 2018, up 167 percent from 2014. Also in 2018, newborn babies were given a total of 32.9 billion won in taxable gifts, or 159 million won each, on average.

Children are also being targeted for tax probes if the source of money used to acquire a certain asset from their parents or grandparents was questionable.

“We suspect that tax evasion could be rampant given the recent sudden spike in gifts to children,” Yang said. “A transfer of wealth to skirt a taxpayers‘ duty must be sternly addressed.”

South Korea's top inheritance tax rate is the second highest among the OECD member nations.

By Son Ji-hyoung (