Samsung Heirs Could Pay a Massive US$6 Billion Inheritance Tax
Heirs of Samsung Electronics Group's founder face a stupendous US$6 billion inheritance tax bill.
Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun Hee, 72, has been in a hospital for three months following a heart attack. His frail condition has led to speculations about the future of the company, said Reuters.
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Lee is a legendary figure in South Korea as the man who turned Samsung Electronics into a powerful conglomerate. He is also the country's richest man with an estimated net worth of US$11.4 billion.
Under Korean inheritance law, an heir will have to pay 50 percent in tax when inheriting such wealth, indicating an inheritance tax bill of some US$6 billion.
Tax attorney Kim Hyeon Jin said it may be possible to avoid this massive tax by placing the money in a foundation, but that will cause the Lee family to lose control over some of their assets.
Reports claim that in order to pay for the inheritance bill, the Lees are planning to open two additional Samsung businesses: Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung SDS Co.
Cheil Industries, more popularly known as Samsung Everland, will operate golf courses and zoos while Samsung SDS is a provider of technology services.
The two offerings will not only raise the money to cover the inheritance bill and comply with government limits on conglomerates, but will also give the public a view of some parts of the Samsung empire that are not well known.
Lee Jae Yong, 46, son of the elder Lee, is the groups's presumed heir apparent.
He graduated from Seoul National University and has proven himself by forging partnerships with Apple and Google.
Doubts persist if he can command the same respect as his father.