Doing your taxes can be mentally taxing

One of the most frustrating aspects of living and working in Korea, is dealing with legal documents that are only written in Korean. It means you do not have the independence to complete forms that, as an adult, I consider to be fairly personal: medical consent forms, bank forms…

Online tax.

For most Korean residents (including the expat community) January 21st 2015 was income tax adjustment deadline day for the 2014 tax year. Don’t panic if you didn’t know about it: check with your employer as different companies do have different tax periods. Chances are, however, your income tax was calculated for you.

How could this be done without bothering to consult you? It may be a hassle for your employer to explain the ins-and-outs of how the adjustment was made, and most expats admit that the tax they are charged here is minimal compared with back home. You may have even been awarded a small tax refund.

Nevertheless it is still your right to know how it was calculated. There may have been some huge oversight in your documents. For example, if your tax is calculated using the online forms that connect to your internet banking, the adjustment will not include any expenses paid for in cash. So you may want to make sure medical bills and other tax-deductable purchases are paid for by card.

Doing taxes in a foreign language can be as frustrating as using outdated technology.

Doing taxes in a foreign language can be as frustrating as using outdated technology.

Even if you do this, the adjustment may still be missing all the facts. On first calculation, my husband was due to be charged almost 400,000 won. (Keep in mind he has been paying tax throughout the year; this is simply an adjustment i.e. extra tax to pay). We considered this to be a pretty hefty fee, considering the hospital fees for the birth of our son had come off his account. Something, somehow, was not being taken into account.

Yet, it wasn’t even this apparent flaw in the system that really frustrated us. It was the attitude of our administration staff:
“400,000 won? That’s cheap! I have to pay almost a million.” The point is not whether a co-worker thinks it’s a lot or not. The point is I have a right to know why I’m being charged what I am. The “just bring me the secret card for your online banking and I’ll do it for you” approach just wasn’t working out for us.

So we pursued the matter, and after some thought our staff did come up with things that made a difference: a signed form declaring the amount we had spent on schooling for our 4 year old, and putting one child under my tax and the other under my husband’s. The result? My tax changed from a minor payment to a minor refund, and my husband has to pay a whopping 14,000 won.

Now that, dear admin staff, is cheap.


meaning of life

For more help with taxes in Korea visit or call 1588-0560

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