1966: Dr. Hong Tao-Tze established the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy.
1987 (July 15): Martial Law ended in Taiwan, theoretically allowing for religious liberty, although the same ruling party (Kuomintang, KMT) remained in power.
1987: Dr. Hong left his business activities to devote himself full time to the activities of Tai Ji Men.
1995: The number of Tai Ji Men academies reached 12.
1996 (March 23): The first direct democratic presidential election was held in Taiwan. KMT president Lee Teng-Hui (1923–2020) was reelected with 54% of the votes. The KMT had not expected serious opposition. It was particularly disturbed by the fact that some religious organizations had supported rival candidates, one of whom, Chen Lu-An was a disciple of Master Hsing Yun, the abbot of the large Buddhist order Fo Guang Shan.
1996 (June-December): In the wake of the presidential elections, KMT Justice Minister Liao Zheng-Hao (1946–2022) carried out a purge against the religious movements that had not supported Lee, including Fo Guang Shan. Leaders were arrested and accused of fraud and tax evasion (although most of them eventually were found not guilty by the courts), and temples and spiritual centers were closed. Tai Ji Men had not taken any political stance but was also accused of not having supported the KMT candidate.
1996 (December 19): Within the framework of the political crackdown on religious and spiritual movements, Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen (dubbed “the Rambo prosecutor” for his swift tactics) raided 19 Tai Ji Men academies and private homes of disciples (dizi). Subsequently, Dr. Hong, his wife, and two dizi were detained on charges of fraud and tax evasion.
1996 (December 23): All assets of Dr. Hong and his wife were frozen, including those unrelated to the activities of Tai Ji Men.
1996 (December 25): Prosecutor Hou promoted the establishment of a “victim’s association” for those allegedly defrauded by Tai Ji Men. It will later be revealed that some of the so-called “victims” in fact had never been part of Tai Ji Men, and the association was basically a fraud.
1997 (April 9): As he later testified, tax collector Shih Yue-Sheng (1949–2020) was summoned by Prosecutor Hou and pressured to commit perjury, falsely claiming that he had investigated Tai Ji Men (which he didn’t) and had ascertained that it was a “cram school,” i.e., a school providing students rapid tuition, with the consequence that the money given by the dizi to their master in the so-called “red envelopes” was a taxable tuition fee rather than a non-taxable gift.
1997 (April 15): Prosecutor Hou issued an indictment, released publicly on April 16, which included the accusation of “raising goblins,” which left several media perplexed.
1997 (April 17): Prosecutor Hou commanded investigators to storm four Tai Ji Men academies looking for evidence of the practice of “raising goblins.” Nothing was found, although later Hou falsely claimed that a peach wood sword the investigators had found (in fact, a gift by a dizi to Dr. Hong) was used in goblin-raising rituals.
1997 (April 25): Prosecutor Hou, overstepping his authority, wrote to the Ministry of Interior demanding the dissolution of Tai Ji Men.
1997 (May 21): Also overstepping his authority, Prosecutor Hou wrote to the government of the counties and cities in Taiwan where the twelve Tai Ji Men Qigong Academies were located, demanding the dissolution of Tai Ji Men entities.
1997 (May 26): First hearing of the Tai Ji Men case in the 7th Criminal Court of Taipei. The court case will last for more than six years.
1997 (May 26): Dr. Hong and his co-defendants were released from detention.
1997 (June 8): Again overstepping his authority, Prosecutor Hou wrote to the Public Works Departments of Taipei City and Taipei County asking that water and electricity supply to Tai Ji Men be terminated.
1997 (October–December): Based on Prosecutor Hou’s indictment, the National Taxation Bureau (NTB) issued tax bills for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996, claiming that the money received by Dr. Hong in the “red envelopes” in those years should be considered as derived from tuition fees rather than gifts. Two branches of the NTB were involved, of Taipei (for 1996) and of the Central Area (for the other years).
1997 (October 29): Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, responsible for cram schools, stated that Tai Ji Men is not a cram school. It will reiterate the statement in 1999 and 2000.
1998–2002: The Petitions and Appeals Committee (PAC) of the Ministry of Finance set aside the Tai Ji Men tax bills five times, and requested the NTB to investigate the nature of the red envelopes (which the NTB didn’t).
1999: The Ministry of Interior and various county and city governments, one after the other. revoked the ill-founded dissolution orders issued against Tai Ji Men.
2000: Minister of Finance Yen Ching-Chang stated that the tax case derived from the criminal case and would be solved according to the decisions by the criminal courts. Other Ministry of Finance officers made similar statements.
2002: The NTB agreed to conduct a survey asking Tai Ji Men respondents to answer whether they considered the money they gave to their Master in the red envelopes in 1992 as tuition fee or gift. Tai Ji Men dizi unanimously claimed that they all answered “gifts,” although they used different words. The NTB claimed that only a tiny minority of respondents answered that the red envelopes contained gifts but, to this date, has prevented Tai Ji Men from accessing or reviewing the files of the survey, persuading Tai Ji Men and many independent observers that the NTB lied about the survey results.
2003 (June): Based on the statement by the NTB concerning the survey, the PAC rejected Tai Ji Men’s administrative appeal against the tax bills.
2003 (July 14): Tai Ji Men brought an administrative action at the Taipei High Administrative Court seeking revocation of the 1996 tax bill issued by the NTB of Taipei.
2003 (September 25): The 7th Criminal Court of Taipei acquitted Dr. Hong and his co-defendants of all charges.
2003 (October 15): The Taipei District Court issued a letter lifting the asset freeze on Dr. and Mrs. Hong. To prevent the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy from being referred to the NTB for enforcement, Dr. and Mrs. Hong immediately provided the NTB with their assets as collateral.
2003 (Oct. 20): Dr. and Mrs. Hong, Having already provided a guarantee, they could no longer be referred for enforcement under the law. The NTB, however, sent a letter to the Administrative Enforcement Agency, requesting that the enforcement be continued. The date of the letter was forged with correction liquid and backdated to October 15, 2003, and the NTB secretly withdrew all the money from Mrs. Hong’s bank account and secretly sold all her stocks.
2005: The Taipei High Administrative Court uncovered the illegality of backdating and falsifying the letter with the false date of October 15, 2003. Only then did the NTB of Taipei return the money from the compulsory enforcement as a “tax refund.” However, to date, the interest has not been repaid to Mrs. Hong, and there are other outstanding amounts that have not been repaid to Dr. and Mrs. Hong, either.
2005 (May 25): The tax bills for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 were litigated between Tai Ji Men and the NTB of the Central Area at the Taichung High Administrative Court. The Court decided differently the cases of 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1995, where it found in favor of Tai Ji Men, and of 1992, where based on what the NTB claimed were the results of the 2002 survey it found in favor of the NTB. Thus, the basic contradiction of the Tai Ji Men case was created, since the activities of Tai Ji Men in 1992 were not different than in the other years.
2005 (September 2): The Taipei High Administrative Court ordered the NTB of Taipei to set aside the 1996 tax bill.
2005 (December 13): The decision acquitting Dr. Hong and his co-defendants was upheld on appeal.
2006 (August 19): The Supreme Administrative Court ruled against Tai Ji Men in the case concerning the tax bill for 1992.
2007 (July 13): Taiwan’s Supreme Court confirmed that Dr. Hong and his co-defendants were innocent of all charges, including tax evasion.
2008–2009: Dr. Hong and his co-defendants received national compensation for the wrongful imprisonment they had suffered in 1996–97.
2009 (August 6): The Supreme Administrative Court revoked the 1996 tax bill.
2009 (September 2): Not for the first time, the Control Yuan, Taiwan’s supreme control organ, investigated the Tai Ji Men case and concluded the NTB had committed major violations of law.
2010 (June 17): The Ministry of Finance and the NTB of the Central Area promised that the case, which was gathering attention among politicians, would be solved within two months.
2010 (November 9): The Association of World Citizens, an NGO accredited with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), submitted a 1503 procedure to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the Tai Ji Men case. A 1503 procedure is a complaint denouncing a case of violation of human rights and inviting the Human Rights Council to investigate. Because of the status of Taiwan at the United Nations, no investigation followed, but the submission had symbolic and political significance.
2011 (December 9): The Executive Yuan, i.e., Taiwan’s government, organized an Interministerial Meeting where it was decided that a new survey would be carried out and the Tai Ji Men case decided accordingly.
2012 (February 19): The results of the survey were announced. All the 7,401 respondents had answered that they regarded the content of the red envelopes as gifts.
2012 (August 3): Interpreting in its own bizarre way the results of the survey, the NTB of Taipei admitted that Tai Ji Men is not a cram school, but issued new tax bills where the content of the red envelopes was considered for 50% non-taxable gifts and for 50% table tuition fees.
2013 (November 27): The NTB of the Central Area followed the same rationale of the NTB of Taipei and continued to issue tax bills.
2015 (July 9): Finally disposing of further recourses of the NTB of Taipei , the Supreme Administrative Court confirmed with a definitive decision that the tax bill for 1996 should be revoked.
2017 (March 9): The Taichung High Administrative Court rendered decision no. 228 against Tai Ji Men and in favor of the NTB of the Central Area for the 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995 tax bills.
2018 (June 26): The Supreme Administrative Court overturned decision no. 228 and remanded the case of the tax bills for the years 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995 to the Taichung High Administrative Court for a new trial.
2019 (September 10): The Taichung High Administrative Court ordered the NTB of the Central Area to “settle pursuant to the law” the case of the tax bills for the years 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995.
2019 (November 22): After the Taichung High Administrative Court’s decision, the NTB of the Central Area corrected the amount of the tax bills for 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995 to zero. However, it maintained the tax bill for 1992, claiming that the Supreme Administrative Court decision of 2006 was final and enforceable. (However, decisions can always be revised when new facts occur. In this case, the new fact was the decision by the Supreme Court in 2007, rendered after the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision of 2006, which acquitted the Tai Ji Men defendants of all charges, and stated that there was not tax evasion).
2019 (December): Finally accepting the courts’ decisions, the NTB of Taipei corrected the amount of the tax bill for 1996 to zero.
2020 (March 2): With the tax bill for 1992 still extant and unpaid, the Administrative Enforcement Agency (AEA) moved to auction Tai Ji Men land, regarded by the dizi as sacred and intended for a self-cultivation center. Official correspondence between the Hsinchu and Shilin branches of the AEA shows that they planned to split between themselves the significant bonuses on the sale.
2020 (May 5 and June 23): The Taipei High Administrative Court sent two letters to the NTB of the Central Area, with copy to the Hsinchu Branch of the AEA, asking them to treat the tax bill for 1992 according to the same standards adopted for the tax bills for the other years, and withdraw the enforcement.
2020 (June 30): Ignoring the letters by the Taipei High Administrative Court, the Hsinchu Branch of the AEA scheduled the auction of Tai Ji Men’s land.
2020 (July 31): While massive Tai Ji Men protests hit the streets of Taipei, the first auction of their land failed.
2020 (August 21): The second auction also failed, and the land was confiscated. Tai Ji Men protests continued.
2020 (September 16): 12 international NGOs wrote to the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, to the Control Yuan, and the Executive Yuan, expressing their concern for the Tai Ji Men case.
2020 (September 19): Ms. Huang, a 60-year-old woman, was arrested during one of the Tai Ji Men protests, generating widespread claims that the police was trying to prevent peaceful demonstrations from continuing.
2020 (November 19): A side event at the 3rd Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Warsaw presented the Tai Ji Men case, and featured a world premiere of the movie “A Question of Justice: The Tai Ji Men Tax Case in Taiwan,” directed by Italian scholar Massimo Introvigne.
2021 (June 21): The ECOSOC-accredited NGO CAP-LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience) submitted a written statement to the 47th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council mentioning the Tai Ji Men case.
2021 (July 13): The Tai Ji Men case was discussed at a side event of the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC, with the Summit leaders Ambassador Sam Brownback and Ms. Katrina Lantos Swett expressing their solidarity to Tai Ji Men.
2021 (August 31): CAP-LC submitted for the second time a written statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council (for its 48th session) mentioning the Tai Ji Men case.
2021 (October 17): The Tai Ji Men case was presented in a session of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
2021 (December 6): An international forum on the Tai Ji Men case was organized in Washington DC.
2021 (December 7): The first international press conference on the Tai Ji Men case was organized in Washington DC.
2021 (December 13): 25 scholars and human rights activists from all over the world wrote to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen urging a solution of the Tai Ji Men case.
2021 (December 19): Massive street protests reminded the Taiwanese that the Tai Ji Men case, which started on December 19, 1996, had been going on for 25 years.
2021 (December 29): The Taiwan Association for Financial Criminal Law Study, the Tax and Legal Reform League, and eight other civil society organizations hosted an international press conference on the Tai Ji Men case at the National Taiwan University Alumni Association.
2022 (February 5): The Tai Ji Men case was discussed at a seminar held both in-person and via web with the participation of scholars, politicians, and human rights activists, hosted by the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in Walnut, California.
2022 (February 9): CAP-LC submitted for the third time a written statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council (for its 49th session) mentioning the Tai Ji Men case.