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Thursday, April 22, 2004

(Family and kin) Ownership of wedding congratulation money, and taxation

Some years ago there was a court case in which a recently married person was ordered to pay tax (donation tax, 증여세) for the sum of wedding congratulation money he (or she, cannot remember) had been given by his parent. The basis for the decision was that it wasn't his money in the first place but given to the parents as a gesture of participation in the wedding expenses, and thus belonged to the parents. Only those congratulation monies given directly to the couple was seen to belong to them.

Now there's been a new case (Han'guk Kyôngje, via Media Daum), in which a chaebôl daughter had been ordered to pay donation tax for the 210 million won (€ 140 000) of the congratulation money (ch'ugûigûm) his father had given to him. She had been ordered to pay the tax on this piece of birch bark (dough), but she made an appeal to the court.
The position of Tax Administration was that the tax is due because her father sent to employees to a bank to take care of the money transfer in 9 separate occasions, there was a print in the wedding invitation card that "flower and money greetings are refused", and that by all accounts it was a gift by the tax authorities' measure.
The Administrative Court decided against the appeal on the basis that it couldn't be proved that the money was from wedding congratulations.
So in this case the reason for taxing the money was not that it was considered as belonging to the parents but because it couldn't be proven to be given in the wedding. (To be more precise, in the case I quoted above the congratulation money was considered to belong to the parents because the father had been a person of a high position, member of parliament, and that the congratulation money had been given more the father than the marrying couple in mind.)
당시 결혼식에는 김영삼(金泳三) 대통령당선자가 500 만원의 축의금을 내는 등 정·재계 인사 871명이 5만원에서 500만원까지 평균 11만6천원의 축의금을 주고 갔다.
그러자 세무서는 97년 “결혼축의금은 부모 앞으로 들어오는 것인 만큼 일단 아버지 소유”라며 오히려 축의금에 대한 증여세까지 추가해 부과했다. 국세청도 “하객들 대부분은 사회저명 인사인 아버지를 보고 축의금을 낸 것”이라며 세무서의 손을 들었 다. 이에 대해 박씨는 “축의금은 부모·형제자매와 친지 관계에 있기 때문에 주는 것이기도 하지만 근본적으로는 결혼 당사자들을 축하하는 의미에서 신랑·신부에게 주는 것”이라고 주장,지난 1월 소송을 냈다. 서울행정법원 행정4부(임승순·任勝淳 부장 판사)는 1일 박씨가 마포세무서장을 상대로 낸 증여세 부과처분 취소청구소송에서 “피고의 부과처분은 정당하다”며 세무서측 손 을 들어줬다. 문화일보 19991001 31면(사회) 03판 뉴스

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