Hong Kong's top earner made $25 million a month and paid $41 million in salaries tax for the past financial year - more than the combined tax paid by the next top three earners, according to figures released yesterday. The top earner made about $300 million in cash bonuses and share options in 2000-01, based on the tax he paid, an expert estimated. This works out to about $833,000 a day. The Inland Revenue Department refused to identify the top wage-earner. Marshall Byres, principal tax consultant at Ernst & Young, said he or she would be a director of a company who exercised a huge share option. The pay dwarfed the salaries of the next three biggest earners, who each took between $78 million and $80 million, each paying $12 million tax. The top 10 earners for 2000-01 paid a combined $142 million, about 51 per cent up on the previous year's $94 million but lower than the $153 million the top 10 taxpayers paid in 1998-99. The top 10 corporate taxpayers added $7.44 billion to the Government's coffers, the No 1 corporation paying $1.48 billion. This compared with $7.4 billion paid by the top 10 corporate taxpayers in the previous year and $5.92 billion in 1998-99. 'The overall increase in tax paid by individuals and companies mainly reflects the recovery of the economy,' the Inland Revenue Department said. 'On present indications, the overall level of salary income in 1999-2000 has increased by three to four per cent, while company profits have started to pick up.' Mr Byres said the top taxpayer was 'a one-off' and did not point to an economic recovery. 'One swallow does not make a summer,' he said. 'Somebody got a big bonus or a big amount of share options which he exercised and therefore triggered a big tax liability,' he said. The Government has estimated that $25.5 billion in salaries tax and $41.26 billion in profits tax will have been collected for the financial year. There are about 1.18 million salary taxpayers. Hutchison Whampoa's group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning received a bonus of more than $206 million in 1999, the Post reported in December. The top earner would have received that kind of bonus plus a hefty pay rise during the year.