Taxing situation: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (center) files his tax return at the Finance Ministry in Jakarta on Thursday, as Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo (right) and taxation chief Fuad Rahmany look on. Vice President Boediono and several other senior officials also filed their returns at the ministry on Thursday. JP/R. Berto Wedhatama
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is slamming the tax office for not keeping his family’s returns confidential, saying that he has become a victim.
“If we do not take action, if we cannot prevent this, then this might be used as a method for blackmailing taxpayers,” the President said when submitting his tax form for 2012 at the Finance Ministry in Jakarta on Thursday.
“I have become a victim in this,” the President told reporters at the ministry.
Yudhoyono said that leaking tax documents was a crime since taxpayer confidentiality was guaranteed by law. He asked that the Taxation Directorate General at the ministry investigate and punish whoever leaked his returns.
“I hope that this case will not happen again. If it happens, then the director general of the tax office must respond and clarify immediately. If not, then this might be used to defame certain taxpayers,” Yudhoyono said.
Documents obtained by The Jakarta Post provided details of Yudhoyono’s 2011 tax return, submitted in the first quarter of 2012, indicating that he earned Rp 1.37 billion (US$140,800) as president and Rp 107 million in royalties.
The documents, the validity of which were confirmed by sources at the Taxation Directorate General, also indicated that Yudhoyono opened bank accounts worth Rp 4.98 billion and $589,188 in 2011.
The President’s two sons, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro Yudhoyono, also had bank accounts containing Rp 1.64 billion and Rp 1.57 billion respectively, the documents said.
Agus’ money was in five savings accounts and one term deposit account that were opened in 2011, while Ibas listed as assets a house and land in Cikeas, West Java, as well as an Audi Q5 SUV car, bringing his wealth to Rp 6 billion.
Meanwhile, the documents said that Agus, a field-grade officer with the Army’s Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad), reported Rp 70.2 million in income in 2012, while Ibas, then a Democratic Party lawmaker, earned Rp 183 million.
Calls have mounted for Yudhoyono to address the disparity between the amounts listed on the tax returns and his family’s income, with former top taxman Fuad Bawazier saying that the President should explain and “make clear” to the public the sources of his and his sons’ income.
Speaking in front of Cabinet members and Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, who were also on hand to submit their returns, Yudhoyono took time to defend himself. “A certain media outlet portrayed me as not fulfilling my obligation as taxpayer. Really, I am compliant and disciplined when paying my taxes every year.”
The President added: “Documents that I have obtained have been verified thoroughly. I do not want to be short of even one rupiah. It will do no good for a government official to be proven to have a tax return that is short of the amount that should be paid.”
The current chief of the Taxation Directorate General, Fuad Rahmany, said that the leak investigation was ongoing, alleging that there was evidence that the returns might have been stolen by unidentified hackers.
“Our system utilizes IT [information technology] and it is all already online. This poses dilemma between having a more efficient workload and hackers scattered around the world and Indonesia,” Fuad told reporters.
He said that leaking a taxpayer’s return, frequently done under the illegal practice or “tax peeping”, or the unauthorized viewing of the returns of notable individuals, was a threat in Indonesia as well as in developed countries such as the US and Germany.