The fiscal persecution of Tai Ji Men, a mysterious case
During the past 25 years the National Tax Bureau (NTB) have singled out and targeted Tai Ji Men treating them differently than other spiritual groups.
A rough picture of the case shows shocking irregularities perpetrated by a prosecutor and the NTB as follows.
They have trumped up non-sustained charges of fraud, in violation of the Tax Collection Act.
They have been inconsistently changing tax demands and claimed illegal heavy fines.
They have carried out illegal raids.
They auctioned off and confiscated the sacred land for self-cultivation of Tai Ji Men.
They have not just frozen defendant’s bank accounts, but even illegally withdrawn money from his bank accounts.
They have cut off the utility power from the defendants’ facilities.
They have publicly slandered the defendant and Tai Ji Men and have been involved in defamation using a series of instruments, including inhumane interrogation practices, and media crews.
They have threatened and harassed individuals to the point of causing trauma.
They have unlawfully imprisoned people.
They have created an illegal false anti-cult organization.
They have withheld information from the public.
They have lied in court about the surveys.
And they paid bonusses to tax officers as incentive to put pressure on Tai Ji Men to pay up.
Surprisingly, we observe that apparently in Taiwan perpetrators can get away with impunity, even after the courts have clearly spoken out against them. This has serious consequences.
The cost of all of this has been heavy for Tai Ji Men and its dizi:
scapegoating (a practice of blaming an innocent group of people for societal misfortune);
job loss of individuals and intense personal and family trauma;
unnecessary high legal fees for the taxpayer.
The campaign has caused public distrust against the rule of law, as well as a diminishing image of the National Tax Bureau in the eyes of the public.
Moreover, it confirms the message that corruption pays off. It causes religious and other NGOs go underground, rather than have them do their charitable work in society. It degenerates the cultural value system of society at large and destroys the healthy conscience of individuals. And internationally, it damages relations with befriended nations, which has negative effects on trade and national and regional security.
One wonders as to the motive of a campaign of harassment and persecution for more than two decennia.
Why would the prosecutor and the Tax Administration trample on the rule of law so long?
Is it political – even if TJM do not take a political stance?
Is it based on rumors and fake news or slander about an illegal or dangerous cult?
Or is it a lack of understanding of the constitutional right to freedom of religion?
Is it a personal vendetta?
Is it personal financial gain by particular bureaucrats?
The main argument is unclear. As for me, any of the above should make little sense in a democratic state that is based on the rule of law, with the objective to serve and protect the people.
For the Tai Ji Men it would have been cheaper by far to just pay off the tax claims from the start. Yet, in their belief in justice and integrity they refused to do so. At least their objective is clear.
I must conclude that this case can be summarized as one that is about corruption vs integrity.