Star TV Host Bows Out Over Tax Fiddle

Kang Ho-dong leaves a hotel room after a press conference about his alleged tax evasion in Seoul last Friday. Kang Ho-dong leaves a hotel room after a press conference about his alleged tax evasion in Seoul last Friday.

One of the major news stories that rattled Korea during the Chuseok holidays was popular TV show host Kang Ho-dong's announcement that he would withdraw from all the shows he is hosting and take time out for self-reflection.

Prompted by revelations that Kang (41) failed to declare his full taxable income, the decision will change the entertainment landscape, which until now has been dominated by Kang and rival host Yoo Jae-suk.

Kang was apparently slapped with a W700 million (US$1=W1,077) invoice by the National Tax Service. The amount includes W200-300 million annually for 2007 to 2009 plus surtax. But the NTS apparently does not intend to file charges since the back taxes do not exceed W500 million per year, and the error appears to have been due to a miscalculation by his accountant.

One prosecution official said the NTS found that the amount filed under "expenses" by his accountant did not qualify as such but there was no sign that he deliberately tried to evade taxes. The Seoul District Prosecutors' Office, which was investigating a complaint against Kang for tax evasion filed by a private citizen, is expected to drop the case.

"In cases where taxes levied for a year do not exceed W500 million, the NTS has to file charges for prosecutors to launch an investigation into alleged tax evasion," the prosecution official said. "But the NTS has not filed charges yet." 

The NTS declined to confirm whether Kang had been the target of a tax probe, saying it is illegal to disclose any information about an individual.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 14, 2011 11:39 KST