Headlines

Yudhoyono passes buck to
tax office on his family’s
returns

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked the Finance Ministry’s taxation directorate general to publicly address discrepancy allegations surrounding the first family’s tax returns.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said any matters related to tax issues were matters for the directorate general.

“The directorate is supposed to give the explanation. It has the authority to do so,” said Julian before boarding the plane that will fly the President’s entourage overseas.

Yudhoyono left Jakarta on Wednesday evening to visit three African countries and Saudi Arabia, his first foreign trip of 2013.

Julian said Yudhoyono would not respond to media reports on the matter. “The President is doing his business as usual. Every year, he and his family file tax returns in a very transparent way.”

As reported by this paper on Wednesday, there are numerous questions over the mismatch between the first family’s wealth and their annual earnings, based on the tax returns of Yudhoyono and his two sons, Maj. Agus Harimurti and Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro.

Agus, for example, declared on his 2011 tax return an annual income of Rp 70.2 million (US$7,300). Agus is an officer with the Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) in Jakarta.

The tax documents, however, reveal that Agus opened four different bank accounts and deposited over Rp 1.6 billion that same year. There is no information in the documents as to how the additional income was earned and the section for extra income — including that of his wife, fashion model Annisa Pohan — was left blank.

More questions revolve around an asset transfer in the form of property worth Rp 500 million from Yudhoyono to Agus in 2011 that could not be verified in the documents.

Ibas’ 2010 tax returns also raise questions. He earned Rp 183 million as a Democratic Party lawmaker. He also had an investment worth Rp 900 million with PT Yastra Capital, a cash deposit amounting to Rp 1.59 billion and cash equivalents of Rp 1.57 billion. Ibas did not declare any extra income, such as dividend payments, donations, stocks or investment proceeds. He had total assets of Rp 6 billion as reported on his 2010 tax return, including an Audi Q5 SUV car worth Rp 1.16 billion.

Yudhoyono, a general groomed by late dictator Soeharto, also did not have a tax registration number (NPWP) until 2000 when he was appointed as energy and mineral resources minister.

Under the tax law, all citizens are required to have NPWP or risk going to prison.

Julian said that “discrepancies”, if they really did exist, would be handled by the relevant institutions.

In response to the request from the President, taxation director general Fuad Rahmany only said that original tax returns were classified documents and the property of the directorate and the taxpayer in question.

“The President and his two sons have met the required taxation administration procedures and have complied with the existing law and regulations,” said Fuad in a written statement.

Members of House of Representatives’ Commission XI on finance have appealed for transparency from the tax directorate on the issue.

“We may summon the tax officials and ask them whether they have requested an explanation of the discrepancies from the President,” commission deputy chair Harry Azhar Azis said.

“If the explanation is not satisfactory then we may consider a political move’” he said.

Commission member Dolfie OFP expects lawmakers to try to obtain the original tax returns. “If we have them and an independent auditor identifies possible manipulations, then we will certainly summon all related stakeholders to explain themselves,” Dolfie said.

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