$45m bill for territory's top taxpayer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 April, 2002, 12:00am

Hong Kong's biggest-paying individual taxpayer contributed $45 million to the Inland Revenue this year, the largest amount since 1997.

Authorities would not disclose details but the tax bill suggests an assessable income of about $300 million for the financial year.

This works out at $25 million a month - enough to pay for a 1,500-square-foot flat on the Peak ($12m); a BMW 745Li ($1.09m); monthly fees at exclusive schools for three children ($35,812); a first-class return trip for a family of five to London ($279,500); set lunch for five every day for a month at Gaddi's restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel ($52,700); and the monthly wages of 2,100 domestic helpers ($7.7 million). Even then, the wealthiest taxpayer would still be left with about $3.84 million to set aside towards his tax bill.

Together, the top 10 taxpayers contributed $256 million to government coffers - significantly more than the combined figure of $185 million for the boom year of 1997-98.

Speculation on the identity of top taxpayers has centred on Pacific Century CyberWorks deputy chairman Linus Cheung Wing-lam, PCCW director Francis Yuen Tin-fan and Hutchison Whampoa group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning.

But the combined contribution from the top 10 taxpayers amounts to less than one per cent of the Government's total salaries tax receipts.

Authorities releasing the figures noted the tax bills for the most recent financial year were calculated with reference to income for the previous year, 2000-2001. This could explain why the figures do not appear to reflect the economic downturn.

Less than one fifth of the population pays income tax. The highest tax bill in recent years was in 1997-98, when one individual paid $61 million.