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Understanding the Implications of Korea's Financial Investment Income Tax (FIIT)


As the deadline for the implementation of the Financial Investment Income Tax (FIIT) approaches, the Korean stock market finds itself in a state of uncertainty. The prospect of the FIIT coming into effect next year has stirred significant backlash from individual investors who anticipate being subject to this tax. Referred to as the "stock transaction tax," its introduction has raised concerns about its impact on market dynamics, particularly regarding fairness and potential market downturns.

Overview of the FIIT:

The FIIT, slated for implementation on January 1st of the upcoming year, is designed to tax income realized from investments in various financial products, including stocks, bonds, funds, and derivatives. Originally scheduled for enactment last year, its implementation was postponed for two years due to opposition from various sectors, including the financial industry and individual investors.

Taxation Framework:

Under the FIIT, financial income exceeding 50 million won from domestic listed stocks and related funds is subject to taxation. For incomes below 300 million won, a combined tax rate of 22%, comprising 20% FIIT and 2% local income tax, is applied after a deduction of 50 million won. If income exceeds 300 million won, a combined tax rate of 27.5% is imposed after deduction. Overseas stocks, unlisted stocks, bonds, and derivatives are also subject to taxation if financial income exceeds 2.5 million won.

Impact on Investors:

The introduction of the FIIT expands the tax base to include not only major shareholders but also ordinary investors. This shift has sparked concerns among individual investors, who fear being targeted for taxation. While the government estimates significant revenue increases from the FIIT, critics argue that the tax may exacerbate market uncertainties and lead to investor withdrawals, particularly from domestic stocks.

Fairness and Operational Concerns:

Critics have raised questions about the fairness of the FIIT, as foreign investors and foreign funds are not subject to its taxation. Additionally, the FIIT's withholding tax system poses operational challenges for investors, as it requires upfront tax payments followed by a cumbersome refund process.


As Korea prepares for the implementation of the FIIT, it faces a complex landscape of economic and market uncertainties. While the tax aims to enhance fairness and neutrality in investment taxation, its potential ramifications on market dynamics and investor sentiment warrant careful consideration. Striking a balance between taxation and market stability will be crucial in navigating the challenges posed by the FIIT.

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