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Tax refund limit to be doubled for tourists

Nov. 27, 2023 - 15:04 By Kim Hae-yeon
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho speaks during a ministers' meeting at the Seoul Government Complex on Monday. (Yonhap)

Starting next year, South Korea's immediate tax refund limit at tax refund stores for tourists will be doubled from 2.5 million won ($1,920) to 5 million won, the Finance Ministry announced Monday, in a move to invigorate the tourism industry.

Currently, tourists can buy items at tax-free prices in designated tax refund stores across the nation, with a maximum purchase limit of 500,000 won per individual transaction. The total cumulative payments can reach up to 2.5 million won.

Starting Jan. 1, the tax refund limit for purchases at those shops will be increased to 1 million won per transaction, with a cumulative total of 5 million won.

During an emergency economy-related ministers' meeting on Monday, Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho expressed the government's intention for such change, and said it aims to "improve the shopping experience for foreign tourists and stimulate the tourism industry."

The adjustment is an expansion of a Culture Ministry policy announced early September. The ministry had announced a raise in the immediate tax refund limit, from 500,000 won to 700,000 won, an initiative aimed particularly at revitalizing "Chinese tourism" in Korea.

Meanwhile, Choo raised concerns on the full implementation of the Serious Accidents Punishment Act, which is to start from January next year, emphasizing the potential burden on small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 50 employees.

Choo asked for the National Assembly to suspend the implementation of the act, while insisting that the government has made ongoing efforts over the past two years to establish a robust disaster prevention system. The minister further mentioned that the government will actively seek additional measures in the next month to bolster safety management capabilities in areas susceptible to vulnerability.