Monday, September 28, 2015

Death and taxes - a gaijin tale

September brought the national census in Japan, something that happens every five years and covers all residents irrespective of nationality. For the first time it's offering the option for on-line input, something, for some reason, that was limited to Tokyo only the last time around. The results will show a decline in population but as that is already known, five years seems a somewhat short period over which to hold the count. Although it will also be interesting to see how many note their religion as Jedi Knight (~175,000 in the UK at the last count).

In follow up to the survey, there are a number of related changes happening at the moment including the introduction of a new ID card system that will again cover all residents. We will all now be known by a twelve digit code (romantic huh?). And this is being proposed as a the basis of a rebate system to mitigate the impact of the coming consumption tax hike from 8% to 10% due in 2017. Now many countries operate varying rates of tax to reduce the impact on families on lower incomes, for example by exempting food or children's clothing. But not Japan.

The new proposal is raising eyebrows. The rate will be a flat 10% on all items and then the government will provide a rebate based on what has actually been purchased. And to track this, people will need to provide their new ID number every time they buy a loaf of bread. Statistics is not the most glamorous of subjects but it will be interesting to see what the civil liberties lobby makes of this idea. And don't even get me started on the new Exit Tax or the Inheritance Tax on non-residents! A simpler way, to find, I must.

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