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Samsung’s Lee family to announce inheritance tax plan next week

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
The bereaved family of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee will make public its plans for the late tycoon’s massive personal wealth, estimated to be worth over 30 trillion won ($26.98 billion), industry sources said Tuesday.

The plan will include donations of art from the chairman’s collection and the allocation of his stocks to family members, including Lee Jae-yong, his son and successor in the Samsung empire. It will also detail how the family plans to pay the inheritance taxes.

On behalf of the family, Samsung Electronics is expected to make the announcement next week, the sources said.

The inheritance taxes will depend on how much of the late Lee’s assets the family decides to keep. Yet it is almost certain that the sum will break the record in the country’s inheritance tax history.

The financial industry estimates that the tax on inherited stocks alone would be around 11 trillion won. The total levy could be 12 trillion to 13 trillion won.

Industry observers predict that the Lee family will apply for an annuity, under which the family could pay the taxes in six installments over a five-year period.

By the end of April, the Lee family must pay at least 2 trillion won.

Chairman Lee was the country’s richest man, holding equities, artworks and real estate worth over 30 trillion won.

He owned a 4.18 percent stake in Samsung Electronics, 20.76 percent in Samsung Life Insurance, 2.88 percent in Samsung C&T and 0.01 percent in Samsung SDS. The total value of his equity holdings stands at around 24 trillion won.

The tycoon was an avid art collector as well. His collection includes some 13,000 pieces of cultural heritage and modern artworks, whose total value is estimated at 3 trillion won.

Including the chairman’s residence in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, the total value of his real estate is estimated to be over 1 trillion won.

If the Lee family decides to donate the chairman’s art collection, which is estimated to be worth 1 trillion to 2 trillion won, the collection will not be taxed.

Some cultural heritage could be donated to national museums, while renowned artworks are expected to be donated to multiple art galleries, news reports said.

As the payment deadline approaches, eyes are also on the chairman’s promise to donate 1 trillion won worth of personal property, which was made in 2008 when he apologized for keeping slush funds under borrowed names.

A possible means of making the donation might be to establish a public foundation in the chairman’s name. Alternatively, the donation could be made to the Samsung Foundation.

How much Lee Jae-yong, the eldest son and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, should pay, and how he will pay the tax, is attracting market attention as well.

As shareholders, the junior Lee and his mother, Hong Ra-hee, have received around 1.03 trillion as dividends. They will need an additional 1 trillion won to pay their first installment this month.

Some news reports said Lee was preparing to apply for credit loans from multiple financial institutions.

Regarding the inheritance tax payment plan, Samsung officially declined to comment.

By Song Su-hyun (song@heraldcorp.com)
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