Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Monday he wants to accelerate the schedule for simplifying the capital-gains taxes on stock sales.

“I don’t think things should be left as they are,” he told a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, referring to an emergency economic package adopted in April that included proposed reforms of securities-related laws.

Under the current system, stock investors have the option of either paying a 1.05 percent withholding tax on the value of share sales — whether or not they have gained — or paying a 26 percent tax on the annual total of their capital gains by filing a separate tax return.

The withholding tax option, originally scheduled to be abolished at the end of March, was extended for another two years as some ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers were concerned its abolition would discourage individuals from investing in the stock market.

Shiokawa said the schedule for abolishing the withholding tax option could be moved up, indicating a spring 2003 target.

The three ruling coalition parties — the LDP, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — have agreed to work out a plan under which the capital-gains tax rate would be reduced to 20 percent from the current 26 percent.

But most senior LDP tax panel members have argued that any cut in the capital-gains tax rate should be discussed together with the abolition of the withholding tax.

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