Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, June 9, 2014

Samsung Heirs Face A Hefty Tax Bill

Samsung heirsSamsung Group leader Lee Kun-hee’s heirs are about to face one of the largest inheritance tax bills, and may have no other option but to pay up. 

Lee’s 45-year-old son Jay Y. Lee, the group’s supposed heir, and his two sisters could be responsible for at least $6 billion in tax under South Korea’s inheritance tax rate of 50 percent.  Attempts by the Lee family to ease its tax burden could in fact weaken its control over the Samsung Empire, which risks stirring up public condemnation. 

In South Korea, this tax has been a problem for the wealthy.  Michael Shikuma, a Tokyo-based international tax and estate planner said that there tends to be less use of estate planning in Asia, “In Japan, historically, tax planning has not really been considered something that’s a patriotic thing to do.”

Yet with the huge increase in market value of the elder Lee’s holdings, it is virtually impossible for his heirs to lessen the tax bill.  However, there are steps they can take to manage the payment.  Tax experts predict the family will use a combination of methods to meet their tax burden in a way that the public perceives as legitimate. 

See Se Young Lee, For Samsung Heirs, Little Choice But to Grin and Bear Likely $6 Billion Tax Bill, Reuters, June 5, 2014.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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