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    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 17th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms.  How dare they engage in such suspicious activities!  It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    From: KYA
    Subject: [Community] Gaijin card required for tax return now?
    Date: April 13, 2010
    To: communityinjapan@yahoogroups.com

    Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

    But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, I got this in the mail: http://s161.photobucket.com/albums/t223/babyhayate/?action=view&current=tax.jpg

    (Click to expand in your browser)

    I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions… I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question ad delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritgage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

    I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

    Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law. So I said, well then I won’t provide it if the law doesn’t require it, and he said that they wouldn’t process my return until I provided it. So I said, so that means the law DOES require it? This time he said yes, but still couldn’t actually come up with a specific law. He then wanted my name and phone number so that he could “get back to me” about it… but he was pissed off by this point, I didn’t want him to make a note on my file or something that would delay my refund any further so I said I’d call back when the person in charge had returned.

    The person in charge said, it was for the purpose of confirming my address, because I don’t have a juminhyo… but again, I didn’t have a juminhyo LAST year either. And if they are really checking everyone at city hall, there is a record of my address there as well, it’s a different deprtment but they could still check. He then said it was to confirm the spelling of my name in English… again, doesn’t make sense to me as all of the documents issued by all of the companies I freelance for list my name in kanji-katakana (which I requested them to do BECAUSE it’s the way I’ve always filed my tax return and silly me, I thought the names should match?)

    I did get this second guy to tell me that I could submit a copy of my driver’s license instead or copy the gaijin card and black out everything except name, address, and date of birth, when I said that it wasn’t the tax office’s job OR right to check my birthplace or status of residence etc.

    But… what is the deal here? Has anyone else has this experience? This year only, or have I just lucked out seven years running? Does anyone know what the law DOES say about this? Do I have to submit it? Can they really withhold my tax refund, for taxes that I paid but never owed in the first place, if I don’t submit it?

    I never know what to do in this situation… if it’s a hotel or another business, in the end, they want my money and the money of all the people I’m going to tell about my lousy experience… in this case, it’s the government and they’ve got 48,000 yen that I want and need, and in the end they KNOW that I’m not going to throw away that money on principle… I considered throwing the teigakukyuufukin paperwork in their faces when the woman had the nerve to refer to my “husband’s household” as something separate from ME… but that was a free handout, this money is MINE, I knew I was going to get it back and planned for it in my budget, so I feel like there’s not a lot I can do… I’d at least like to know what they are really checking, whether it’s for everyone or just people picked at random, and whether I can legally say no and still get my money (much as I’d like to make a stand, that’s a whole month’s pay coming back… they know they’ve got me up against a wall here)

    Anyone else having problems? KYA

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    MTJ replies:

    A few things came to mind when I read your story, Kimberly.  First, that the form they sent seems to cover a lot of the new ‘procedures’ linked to the new family allowance program being implemented this month, specifically the brouhaha in the media over NJ who has children living abroad needing to jump through all sorts of hoops to qualify.  More tellingly, the part at the bottom confirms what I suspected was the case, it’s a piece of gyousei shidou;, or ‘administrative guidance.’  That’s why the official may have had trouble supplying you with an actual law, as it doesn’t actually exist.  However, in the minds of the local bureaucrats it’s just as good, especially if it “came from above.”

    Wiki has a good stub on the subject here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_guidance

    ENDS

    19 Responses to “Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns”

    1. Mumei Says:

      Work has always done it for me, so I have never needed to fill my tax return directly with the city / ward office.

      However, you could fight this per 外国人登録法 13-2. They will need a 法務省令 in order to qualify for presentation of the card (but are still not entitled to a copy). I note at the very bottom that it says “この文書による行政指導の責任者は、税務署長です”–note the slightly different English translation–but that is not a valid substitute for 法務省令.
      Here is a list: http://www.moj.go.jp/hisho/shomu/syokan-horei_syorei.html

      I would leave out the gaijin card copy and send them a copy of the law in its place. You have fulfilled your obligation of filling your taxes (something that seems to be problem with many Japanese). Whether they want to process it or not should not be your concern.

      That said, this seems to be another ignorant local policy. They should be asking for a 外国人登録原票記載事項証明書, not a copy of one’s gaijin card, which we carry for a different purpose. (Whether I would be happy to supply that or not is another matter, though. It depends on if Japanese need to supply a copy of their 住民票 when filling taxes, which I do not know.)

    2. stevicus Says:

      “it’s the government and they’ve got 48,000 yen that I want and need”
      “that’s a whole month’s pay coming back… ”

      I’m guessing it is 480,000 yen – which is one heck of a return. It is possible to decrease the amount that is being withheld?

    3. J Says:

      Every year when I receive the tax return forms from the tax office, there is an English form asking for details on tax residency status and days in and out of Japan. Most of the questions are potentially relevant to the tax calculation although the form also asks for the gaijin card number and visa status which are not relevant. I know people who prepare Japanese tax returns and am fairly certain that they never ask for a copy of the gaijin card to prepare the return. I have never been asked for mine by the tax office even when claiming a refund.

    4. The Shark Says:

      Interesting topic!

      Nationaliy and tax office:

      a) I became Japanese earlier this year (through naturalization). I had to go to the tax office (somewhere in Osaka-fu) for some purpose and asked on that occasion if I needed to inform the tax office about my recent change of nationality.
      Verbal answer from the tax office: “No, you don’t need to tell us. Your nationality is of no concern as far as the tax office is concerned.”

      b) When I was still a foreigner in Japan I never received a request for a copy of my gaijin card from the tax office.

      c) My family name before and after naturalization is Japanese (kanji).

      Conclusion:
      Because of a) b) and c) it really looks like they are guessing people’s nationality from the way your name sounds. Since they were not interested to know about my change of nationality, I guess my Japanese family name must have made me already Japanese enough for them.

      Advice:
      Get a Japanese name whenever legally possible (through marriage for instance). It’s sad and requires a good sense of humor but it will do the trick in many cases.

    5. level3 Says:

      I’ve been filing my own returns for 4 years in Osaka. I don’t recall ever being asked for any ID. I assume that they assume that me showing up in person with all my income statements and willing to pay means they can safely assume I am me and am not intent on defrauding the government. However, I am single, have a very low (student) income, no property, no dependents, (wow, my life sounds depressing now), no claims for special handouts beyond that 12,000 yen insult/bribe from PM Aso that us single folks got. I’m not worth the trouble to audit.

      Sounds like this is another of those local decisions to enforce/ignore certain “guidelines”. I’m assuming KYA is filing as a spouse?
      Frankly, if they’re just asking for any form of ID, I don’t see what’s wrong, as long as they do the same for Japanese in the same situation. Do they?

      Since this form is labeled “T-7″, I wonder if there is a form “T-6″ asking Japanese people to send ID and such?

    6. Steve Says:

      For prevention of this strong-arming problem in the future,

      instead of Overpaying then begging for the overpayment return when filing,

      can one simply Underpay and then pay the remaining balance when filing?

      This is just an idea, please let me know if this is impossible. Hoofin?

    7. GiantPanda Says:

      I filed a tax return for the first time this year, and I did not have to present or provide a copy of my gaijin card.

      You DO have to present a 外国人登録事項証明書 if you are claiming certain deductions – for example if you sold a house or apartment that you used as your residence you have to provide it to prove that you actually lived there. Japanese people have to provide a 住民票 for the same purpose.

    8. Hoofin Says:

      I have never been asked for the touroukusho whenever I have had to file on my own. Not clear why or why not, and not sure it would make a difference.

      Sounds like a clerk got an idea in his or her head to do this.

    9. Steve Says:

      Hoofin, Is the initial-over-paying avoidable?

      Can one simply pay the perfectly-calculated-balance when filing?

      Can regular folks do this? Or, can just the self-employed do this?

    10. Hoofin Says:

      @Steve @9:

      I am not sure what you’re getting at, but if you are asking if there is not some way to avoid overwithholding (or not being withheld on), I believe the answer is “no”.

      One year, my employer refused to withhold because he said the foreigners who worked for him previously didn’t like it. (In fact, he was trying to get around certain social insurance rules.)

      In another year, I did work here in Japan for someone in America, who paid me. So even though my employer did the nenmatsuchosei, there was still other money that I had to declare. Thus, necessitating a tax form.

      There was the year I was let-go midyear, so there was no nenmatsuchosei, and I had to do it myself.

      I think NJ who play it right have more contact with the forms and the rules than the everyday Japanese do.

      On the topic of the post, however, I am now wondering whether the tourokusho issue doesn’t have more to do with income earned overseas. How many people are aware that if they lived in Japan for five of the last ten years, they are obligated to pay on overseas earnings as well? So maybe the alien registration card is a way to check on the length of time someone has been here?

    11. DR Says:

      The tax office was one of two places I was always asked for my ARC, the other being passport control both entering and leaving. DoCoMo only asked me the first time I got a telephone for it, but even the bank accepted my driver’s license, and since nobody else apart from these or city hall asked, I never offered it.

      Now no longer resident in Japan, let me add my two yen’s worth here about taxes. (This is anecdotal, and my account only. Seek professional tax counseling. No liability accepted!)

      Like the writer above, and some of the other commentors, I always did my own tax returns, and usually went to the regional office in the first day or two of the filing season. Getting official tax receipts from my clients was sometimes a hassle, but I always started leaning on them by about Valentine’s day. Only once was I delayed, and that was because the accountant for one of them had passed away.

      Like any intelligent individual, I max-ed out (with justifying paperwork to prove it) my deductions and minimized my income amounts, offset by those deductions. Only once did anyone actually take a calculator and check the numbers, that was the first time around. They never did it again. I never had to line up with the locals, as they always had a “Foreigners Only” desk, manned by a monolingual Japanese only speaking officer. It usually took less than 20 minutes. Yes, they always asked for, and asked if it was OK to copy my ARC, and they usually did a single copy of the card with the account/branch details of my bank on the same page. I had to sign the green-ink paper stating residency intent only from the second time around, not the first. (Not sure to this day why that was.) Glue stick appeared, and all my original tax statements of income, minus some life & medical insurance receipts got fixed into the left-side inside from cover of the returns package. They never, not once kept any receipts, but they always told me to keep them on file in case I was audited. (To save space I always scanned them and kept them as digital copies, as they never specified they had to be kept as paper. I hate paper!) Thankfully, I never was audited.
      The file was then shoe-laced into cardboard file covers, and was hauled out and added to each year I went there, so by the time I left it was quite the thick binder.

      My advice to anyone is, and always has been: If you have a spouse visa or PR status, open up a sole-proprietorship consultancy from your home and show that you are trying to earn income. You don’t have tor register. It’s a Nike thing: Just Do It! Get the appropriate form from the tax office and get someone whose Japanese is good enough, if your own isn’t, to tell you all the things you can deduct; 40% of your rent, your electricity, cell phones, regular phones, office equipment, overseas business travel, business cards (make sure they’re bilingual and you name yourself President of the consulting company. That’s what the tax office guy told me to do!), inkans, car mileage, gasoline, taxi-fares, professional attire, watches etc. etc. I’m not joking here, they are very liberal in what they allow you to claim. (I claimed a Rolex and they allowed it!) I reckon they don’t go after the little people for JPY10,000. They’d rather go after Toyota or IHI for gazillions. Check it out. Remember, keep your receipts in order and a reasonable accounting system, like a small black book with monthly income and expenditures ledgers. The tax office, I’ve found, to be actually one of the more humane places in Japan. Go figure! Now if we could just expand that common-sense can-do attitude to the rest of kanryo-run Japan, I’d still be there!

    12. Tony D Says:

      I wouldn’t worry about paying taxes- apparently as a non-citizen you don’t need to pay them!

      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html

      “Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes,” he said. “Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy”

    13. holmes Says:

      They are liberal about what you claim.

      However, heres a bizarre little factoid. In Saitama they dont let foreigners submit online, it seems. Or maybe just in a certain city hall, as I was directed to the gaijin registration counter for tax returns (!?!)

      I was told “only Japanese citizens can submit tax returns on the net”.

      I was told at the place chosen as the location for tax return filing that I could do it online, if I went and got an IC card from my local city hall. This I dutifully did, and was handed the form to fill out.

      However, when I attempted to hand it in at the next counter (the counter for alien registration, is this a joke?) I was told that foreigners could not submit their returns online. I asked why, and a more senior official was called over; I get the feeling he was prepared to answer this inevitable query from foreigners, but I cannot prove this (though why again is the E tax counter the same as the foreign registration one?). He was very sorry, but currently, he said, non citizens could not submit online. I thought of the Korean and Chinese permanent residents-they run alot of businesses so probably have to submit tax returns-and asked if permanent residents could submit online.

      No they cant, was the answer.

      The official went on to refer to the current law being proposed, which would include changes to this system.Regrrttably, he said, this law hadnt made this year’s tax returns deadline but it would in the future, he added.

      However, if this is the same package that gives voting rights to permanent residents, then it is worth pointing out that Saitama prefectural Office is one of those opposing the passing of the bill.

    14. KYA Says:

      Just to clarify a few points that others have brought up:

      -It’s really 48,000 yen, not 480,000… I do freelance work at home and took 6 months maternity leave this year, so that’s all the tax I paid and it’s all coming back… not a huge amount of money but since I only made 480,000 yen, percentage-wise it’s pretty big for us.

      -My name is kanji last name, katakana first name. I have a very common Japanese last name… I agree that they are probably just judging me by my name, as it’s not obvious whether I’m an NJ with a J spouse, or a J citizen whose parents felt like being international and/or creative.

      -I only claimed the 380,000 base exemption that everyone gets, as well as my internet and telephone charges that were necessary to do my job (since I’m freelance I use Form B, always have). I claim those things every year and have never seen this form letter before. My husband claims all of our insurance etc with his company.

      I did send them a copy of my ARC with everything except name, address, birthdate blacked out. Thank you Mumei in #1 for the legal information. If they have a problem with my blacked-out copy I will cite that.

    15. JayIII Says:

      I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

      A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” 外国人宿泊者 and 旅券もしくは外国人登録証明書を提示 to

      Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人宿泊者 and 旅券を提示

      So it’s one little step in the right direction.

      – Yes. Excellent. The cops and ministries are finally giving hotels the correct information and no longer bending the laws to target all NJ. Pity it only took five years for them to knock it off. Thanks for letting us know.

    16. Astrix Says:

      #
      So it’s one little step in the right direction.#

      That’s an amazing piece of news! All that complaining must have finally done some good.

    17. MMT Says:

      That’s good news, JayIII. One thing though, I hope that the translation in English doesn’t say “permanent” Japanese residence specifically, since that may confuse guests thinking they need some form of long-term visa (永住権) to be exempt, when in fact any old residence will do (even those living between two countries).

    18. Getchan Says:

      I think it’s a local thing. My tax return forms (self-employed, “blue return”) contain a form for days-in and days-out that used to have a field for the gaijin card, but doesn’t anymore. They appear to be centrally printed and distributed to all foreigners, as my form package also included a manual in English. Frankly, I have never questioned the gaijin card part, as I’ve always presumed, that locals would have a hard time decyphering “foreign” handwriting and needed the card number to match their records.
      Anyway, I noticed some time ago, that the field for the card number was gone from the form. Not that I would complain… ;-)

      @#11

      I was told up to 50% of your rent is deductible, if you work from home, but you may be required to give access to your premises to tax officials for verification. The “blue return” form has a field where you enter the total rent, and the landlord’s name and address on the back, and a field where you enter the amount you deduct for rent on the profit-and-loss side. I’ve deducted 50% for the past 14 years and have never had any complaints / audits…
      It may be different for “white returns” (= the ones, that don’t allow you to carry over losses declared on previous returns).

    19. blimp Says:

      I had exactly the same experience as the poster. Up until this year I have never shown or had my ARC copied. To my surprise this year they did demand my ARC so that they could get a copy. When asking why, first the man that made the demand didn’t really have an answer but said something general that it was to check identification. I then ask whether everyone was checked, including Japanese citizens, and got a negative response back. I questioned this, he went away and came back after awhile saying that it had to do with checking the spelling of my name(!). I asked again if this was done with Japanese citizens too and again got a negative response. He then goes on and says if I don’t give up my ARC they will not accept my declaration at which point I didn’t feel too big as this was the very last day for declarations. I then say that if it is only to check the spelling of my name I will show him my ARC (not giving it up for copying) which I did while covering all other info, excluding my photo.

      Next year I will go earlier, bring a driving license and do more complaining.

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