Those of you who, like me, are used to cultivating your computer addiction while the wife shops online may have to start talking to your wife again if the government has its way. The tax people have decided to promulgate new rules for internet sales, and the industry is up in arms at having to pay taxes like everyone else

According to the Ministry of Finance, online auctioneers will have to pay business and income tax beginning on November 4. In addition, those whose monthly sales reached NT$200,000 will be required to obtain a business registration certificate.

The ministry further stipulated that while auctioneers whose monthly sales are below NT$200,000 remained exempt from obtaining a formal certificate, they would still have to register with the tax bureau if monthly turnover exceeded NT$60,000.

The proposed measures sparked criticism from online auctioneers, who claim that because their online businesses can be operated from any place that has Internet access, conventional regulations that require a fixed place of business are not suitable.

Fortunately this is Taiwan, and so the vendors immediately announced plans to cheat on the system.

Some auctioneers said that they would counter the plan by signing up for several accounts and alternating between them. This would keep sales revenue for any one account below the amount requiring any form of registration and help them remain tax-exempt.

Hence, like most laws in Taiwan, it will punish the law-abiding while letting illegal ones off scot-free. Students protested, saying that they sell out of their dorm rooms — should the university pay tax? At the moment, it looks like tax evasion will continue, and my wife’s addiction is safe.