No change in tax net could bring in 150,000 more workers

AN additional 150,000 Hongkong workers would come into the tax net in the next fiscal year if personal allowances remained at the same level.

A total of 1.6 million working people are expected to pay tax on their salaries in the 1993-94 financial under prevailing legislation, compared with 1.45 million in 1992-93.

The Government would expect to bring in a total of $26.2 billion to public coffers.

When compared to the $21.1 billion in revised estimates for the present fiscal year, that marks a rise of 24.2 per cent.

The figure has been calculated on keeping the existing personal allowance of $46,000 unchanged in Wednesday's budget.

Financial Secretary Mr Hamish Macleod has been under strong pressure, however, to raise tax allowances.

Under existing revenue measures, the Government would expect the total revenue collected to be $89.5 billion in the coming year, compared with total revenue of $78.8 billion in the present estimate.

For profits tax, a total of $40.3 billion is expected to be assessed in 93-94 under unchanged revenue measures. This means an additional $6.1 billion, or a 17.8 per cent increase, over the estimated profit tax income of $34.2 billion this fiscal year.

For property tax, the revenue assessed for 93-94 is expected to be $3 billion, compared with the 92-93 estimate of $2.7 billion.

Total revenue estimated from stamp duty, estate duty, betting duty, entertainments tax and other miscellaneous items is $23.1 billion, just up on the $23 billion in the 92-93 estimate.

On the amount of back tax and penalties assessed, it was estimated that a total of $510 million would be gained, while the estimated figure this fiscal year is $450 million.

Meanwhile, the Inland Revenue Department is targeted for a general departmental expenditure increase of 63.2 per cent.

The figure for 93-94 was $31 million, compared with $19 million for 1992-93.

The Government said this was mainly due to the increased expenditure on maintenance charges and additional computer equipment.

The new estimate also recorded a sharp decline in spending on interest on tax reserve certificates.

It was estimated to be $16 million, a decrease of $35 million against the $51 million in the revised estimate for 92-93.

The drop was mainly due to the exclusion of exceptional payments of interest paid in 92-93 after the Government won several large appeal cases.

The Rating and Valuation Department has its general expenses raised by 36.6 per cent in the new fiscal year.

The departmental expense is estimated to be $4.23 million, while the figure for the present fiscal year is $3.1 million.

The Government explained that the increase of $1.13 million was due to general price increases and the maintenance expenses for a new computer system.

Departmental expenditure, which includes salaries and other expenses, add up to a total of $147.7 million in the coming fiscal year, compared with $146.4 million in this year's revised estimate.