South Korea posts first tax revenue surplus in four years

Seoul, Feb 5 (IANS) The South Korean government posted its first tax revenue surplus in four years in 2015 due to a rise in property transactions leading to increased tax revenue, an official report showed on Friday.

Gross tax revenue reached 217 trillion won ($182 billion) in 2015, higher than an estimate of 215.7 trillion won by 2.2 trillion won, according to the finance ministry. It was up 12.4 trillion won from the prior year, Xinhua news agency reported.

The country ended its third straight year of tax revenue deficit through 2014. The revenue deficit means lower tax income than initially estimated. The deficit kept rising from 2.8 trillion won in 2012 to 8.5 trillion won in 2013 and a record high of 10.9 trillion won in 2014 amid mundane recovery of the economy.

The higher-than-estimated tax revenue came as increased real estate transactions in 2015, caused by a record-low policy rate and eased regulations on mortgage financing, resulted in higher property transfer tax income.

A rise in securities trading helped increase tax revenue, while reduced corporate tax breaks made contributions to tax revenue surplus, the ministry said.

Non-tax revenue amounted to 110.2 trillion won in 2015, up 17 trillion won from a year earlier. But it fell short of an estimated 112.2 trillion won by 2 trillion won.

Gross fiscal expenditure increased 27.9 trillion from the previous year to 319.4 trillion won 2015, sending the 2015 budget surplus to 8.7 trillion won last year. It also marked a turnaround from the three consecutive year of deficit through 2014.

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