Backsliding in Taiwan’s Human Rights Protection and Rule of Law

Conscience Can Raise Taiwan Up


On July 26, an anti-falsification parade took place on Ketagalan Boulevard. Within four days, nearly ten thousand people participated, demanding anti-falsification measures and redress for justice. People are worried that Taiwan’s judicial and tax systems are collapsing.

Tens of thousands population protest under the heavy rain.

The Tai Ji Men’s false tax case that began in the 20th century is also known as the “magical mirror“ that reflects illegality in the legal and tax practices. The Control Yuan investigated the case and listed it as a landmark case of human rights violations. Twenty-four years later, people still have not truly received justice. It has become a major stain on Taiwan's human rights protection in the 21st century. Taiwan is a democratic country that functions on the basis of the Rule of Law. But, a few corrupt government officials have hijacked the whole country and repeatedly challenged judicial authority. Scholars launched an anti-falsification campaign to reveal the wrongdoing of the government and pointed out the key to reform.

A magical mirror that reflects illegality in tax and legal practices
The culprit that started the whole case of injustice

The Tai Ji Men tax case was a false case fabricated by prosecutor Kuan-jen Hou with false evidence and false witnesses in 1996. Without any sort of verification, the National Taxation Bureau (NTB) issued false tax bills on the basis of an indictment. Tai Ji Men was found not guilty by the Supreme Court in 2007. It was determined that the red envelopes given to the master of Tai Ji Men were gifts, and thus tax-free income. In addition, the group ordering of uniforms and other items by Tai Ji Men dizi had nothing to do with the grandmaster of Tai Ji Men and his wife and that was not for profit, and thus tax-free as well. The NTB should have revoked the illegal tax bills 13 years ago, according to the law, but the NTB still overrides and ignores the rules of the judicial system to this day.

For 24 years, Tai Ji Men has won its case against the NTB 18 times in the Petitions and Appeals Committee of the Ministry of Finance and the Administrative Courts. However, the NTB has not lifted the compulsive injunction on any of Tai Ji Men’s property, nor has it returned all of the collateral. Recently, an illegal forced auction of Tai Ji Men’s property was scheduled for the end of July. This highlights the government’s inability to correct mistakes, the lack of an exit mechanism for unscrupulous civil servants, and the corruption in the government. Taiwan's democracy and rule of law has been seriously undermined. Professor Tze-lung Chen––chairman of the Taiwan Association for Financial Criminal Law Study––concluded that the false Tai Ji Men case involved unscrupulous prosecutors, judges, and enforcement officers.

Administrative Enforcement Agency Forcing in to Push Illegal Auctioning
Ignoring Law, Robbing People’s Property, Imposing Injustice upon the Nation!

The Supreme Administrative Court determined that Tai Ji Men is an organization of qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation in 2018. It also pointed out that the final decision for the year 1992 failed to take into consideration the fact that the nature of the income was a gift as confirmed by the Supreme Court ruling and the open survey results. In 2019, the NTB corrected the tax amount for the red envelopes and other related items to zero for 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996, which proved the ruling for 1992 was wrong and the tax bills are unlawful. However, the Administrative Enforcement Agency is still enforcing the auctions of Tai Ji Men’s property. The Hsinchu Office of the Administrative Enforcement Agency illegally seized 56 pieces of Tai Ji Men’s land in Miaoli on July 23, 2009, which had already exceeded the falsely accused tax amount. Moreover, in March 2019, it even requested the Kaohsiung and Shilin Offices to seize Tai Ji Men academies on its behalf.

The Kaohsiung Office then accepted the request and proceeded to seize Tai Ji Men’s Kaohsiung academy on April 17, 2019. The Shilin Office later also accepted the request and proceeded to seize Tai Ji Men’s Nangang academy on April 25, 2019, and the estate in the Xizhi District of New Taipei City is still seized to date.

Professor Tze-lung Chen presented evidence at the Legislative Yuan’s Anti-Fake Public Hearing on July 16 this year, exposing the note on the official document dated March 2 of the Hsinchu Office, “requesting the Shilin Office to record the performance, and share one-half of the commission with this (Hsinchu) Office. Is it agreeable? Please advise." The act of secretly splitting the levied tax as commission is shocking to all. In the Tai Ji Men case, the execution of auctioning did not stop at the recognition of the illegality, which makes one wonder if the enforcement actually came from the greed for the commission. Fu-Chiang Tsai, Tai Ji Men’s volunteer defense lawyer, pointed out, "If the facts are wrong, the application of the law will be wrong. The Ministry of Justice, the country's highest legal interpretation agency, knows this principle very well!” He also pointed out that the Supreme Administrative Court's Judgment No. 422 verdict of 2018 confirmed that the tax disposition and determination for 1992 were wrong, therefore the illegal tax bills for 1992 should have never existed.

Last year, there were 11.04 million cases of back taxes and dues, and for every two people, one suffered from tax arrears. According to the Administrative Enforcement Agency of the Ministry of Justice, there were 1.89 million cases of mandatory enforcement of tax arrears in Taiwan in 2001 and 11.04 million in 2019. Why has this number grown by 5.84 times? The tax disaster is overwhelming. Taiwanese citizens are miserable, and there is no relief. This ongoing issue has become the darkest side of Taiwanese society.

There are many victims in Taiwan who have been persecuted by false tax bills. Wenhuang Huang, the most unlucky public interest lawyer in history, was appointed by the Taichung District Court as an estate administrator and volunteered as a public welfare lawyer. Unexpectedly, the NTB suddenly issued a heavy fine of NTD$110 million to Wenhuang Huang, because it was discovered that the deceased had sent money abroad before his time, and Huang was held responsible. At that time, the mayor of Taichung, Shiow-Yen Lu, supported Huang and understood that the NTB was at fault. However, the then Deputy Finance Minister Sheng-ford Chang said that if Huang was not fined, he would gang up with the heirs of the deceased. In this case, the government treated Huang as a thief. Huang was under so much pressure that he had suicidal thoughts. Whenever he had the urge to jump off his building, he would look at his child. That would give him the courage to live.

In addition, Peichun Wu was falsely identified by the National Taxation Bureau as the owner of a cram school and was charged more than NTD$3.2 million in taxes and fines. As a result, for the past 20 years, she attempted suicide twice and got Stage 3 breast cancer. The savings she had that was supposed to go to her chemotherapy instead went to the government.

Recently, Qingxu Chen, a resident of Keelung city, owed the government a mere NTD$18,000, but his house was auctioned by the government. As a result, his family of three generations almost had to live on the street. Only after the violation of due process and photo fraud in the case was exposed, did the Administrative Enforcement Agency take the initiative to revoke the enforcement. Prof. Doc. Lukas Lien, a Taiwanese professor at Osnabruck University in Germany, said that Taiwan is a country that implements the two international covenants (ICCPR and ICESCR) and that the government is supposed to protect its people but the Enforcement Agency is “eating the people with knives and forks.” He points out that from the Qingxu Chen’s case and the false tax bills against Tai Ji Men, the auction system gives people no chance to defend themselves. Not only so, Taiwan's Administrative Enforcement Agency often seizes a person’s property valued several times higher than the tax amount owed and auctions the property at a low price, which is similar to robbing the people. This is a super scandal about the abuse of power.

The government should protect its people
Unscrupulous officials, it’s never too late to mend your way!

The government should protect its people, not falsely persecute and bully them. Since the very beginning, Tai Ji Men has never violated any tax laws. Solely based on the indictment of Prosecutor Kuan-jen Hou, this unjust tax case was a result of NTB’s failure to investigate according to its duties. In the process, the NTB was found guilty of concealing evidence and tampering official documents. To this day, the NTB owes Tai Ji Men Shifu and dizi justice!

In 2015, legislator Tien-Tsai Hsu asked the then Finance Minister Sheng-ford Chang about Tai Ji Men’s tax case and questioned the NTB’s attitude regarding the case. Minister Chang was so worked up that he claimed that, “if the court decided that it’s donation (referring to the red envelopes that Tai Ji Men dizi gave to their Shifu as gifts), I will cancel the bills!” Legislator Hsu showed that Tai Ji Men had already won in the Supreme Court. All criminal courts said the red envelopes for the shifu were gifts. Legislator Hsu then continued exposing Minister Chang’s misconduct. When he was the director-general of the Taipei National Taxation Bureau, Chang forged an official document, backdating an official document, to conceal the fact that he knew that the court had unfrozen Tai Ji Men’s property. He then sent a letter to the Administrative Enforcement Agency, requesting it to continue the execution and let the Enforcement Agency unlawfully sell Shifu and his wife’s stocks and release their account deposits. Later, when the court found out that he had violated the law, he reluctantly returned money back to Shifu and his wife, in the name of tax refund. This was like stealing money from the treasury.

This person, who had harmed the country and its people, was not punished but was promoted to a higher position instead. Tai Ji Men does not owe any taxes. Instead, the NTB of Taipei still owes Tai Ji Men more than NTD$30 million (based on the opportunity cost calculation). If you use the most typical calculation method, the NTB owes Tai Ji Men at least more than NTD$8 million, and the NTB of the Central Area owes Tai Ji Men more than NTD$3.44 million. For more than 20 days, the 1219 Fight For Fair Tax organization and Tai Ji Men dizi continued to petition and protest at the Administrative Enforcement Agency, demanding the agency to stop the illegal auctions of Tai Ji Men’s property. In order to protect their homes, the volunteers went there rain or shine, clearly demonstrating their determination as practitioners of self-cultivation. "The world is polluted, and people's hearts are the most poisonous." The volunteers repeatedly demand the Administrative Enforcement Agency to come forward and apologize; it’s not too late to mend your way. “With conscience, the future is heaven; without conscience, every moment from now on is hell.” Tai Ji Men’s false tax case, which had begun from an illegal tax bill, is enough to destroy the practitioners’ dojo, hinder their progress in self-cultivation, and even worse, harm the public welfare. These are seriously unfair and unreasonable results. In addition to violating the concept of tax justice and fairness, that also violated the freedom of religion, thought, belief, and cultural life of tens of thousands of Tai Ji Men dizi and their families protected by the Constitution and the two international human rights covenants (ICCPR and ICESCR).

A call for morality and conscience
The most precious value of Taiwan's society

Well-known political commentator Zhongxin Hu particularly joined the event at Ketagalan Boulevard. He shared two stories. “I am a Christian. I believe you can understand this story. One day, Jesus walked by a taxation bureau, let’s call it the NTB. He saw a tax officer, whose name was Matthew. Jesus said to Matthew, “Give up your job as a tax officer, come follow me.” The tax officer did leave everything behind and followed Jesus. He wrote down Jesus’s journey. It has become the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament that we know today. Hu emphasized, “Two keywords in Matthew's Gospel are: justice and compassion."

He told the second story: “There were always a lot of people whenever Jesus was preaching. There was a tax collector named Zacchaeus. He climbed up to a tree because he was short. Jesus walked through the crowd until he stood underneath that tree and said to Zac, “I would like to stay at your place tonight." In the ancient Roman (empire) era, it was a tax-inclusive system. Tax collectors were low ranking people in society. Their job represented greed, and they were not welcomed by the people. “Zac was surprised when he heard Jesus said “I would like to stay in your place tonight,” but there is no record in the Bible of what the exact words Jesus said to Zac. But at breakfast the next morning, Zac said to Jesus: “Master, I used to levy taxes indiscriminately, now I want to pay back with four times my personal property.” His moral conscience awoke. He then said, “I will donate half of my property.”

With these two stories, Hu tried to call the attention of the tax officers and encouraged the public to get involved. “I hear faith, hope, and love in your voice. Even though the deadline is next week, please do have faith.“ He said, “What is faith? Faith is complete confidence rather than proof. The result will prove to you.” “Tai Ji Men 1219 incident will be rectified. I am not a Tai Ji Men dizi, but I have faith in you. Because I believe in human nature, I think our government officers in the NTB, the courts, prosecutors, judges all have a moral conscience, the most precious value of Taiwan's society. We should have confidence that the incident will be rectified, the last mile is right here, next week.” “Faith is complete confidence rather than proof, and the result is proof in your eyes.” These words bring hope to Taiwan’s current chaotic society. They are the wish of our government and the people.

Source: World People News