Would you like to get free* stuff that is cool or delicious or both? No, I am not thinking about thievery. But very much like a modern-day part-time robin hood, you would be redirecting rather than taking. By using Furusato Nozei.
What is it?
It is a government initiative to help rural areas with fever inhabitants generate tax revenue.
Like in many other countries, many Japanese move to the big cities where all the action is. And the rural areas are left struggling with residency tax. To help these places out, residents in the more densely populated areas can redirect a part of their residency tax.
The ‘gifts’ you get are like a ‘thank you’ as well as a reward to redirect your taxes. Because everything to do with taxes is complicated.
The program has many handlers. Meaning the items you can pick differ too. Just have a look by searching the term Furusato Nozei.
Though at the moment there don’t appear to be any English websites.
What do you get?
Mostly regional specialities. Like food and drink, but also craft items.
But the value of the gifts can be no greater than 30% of the redirected tax.
What region should you help?
There are several websites for this, again all in Japanese. There are many worthy causes, like giving to areas that struggle the most with the pandemic or areas struck by natural disaster. Or you could do what most people do and pick somewhere you like (want the gift from).
Can foreigners take part in Furusato Nozei?
Yes, we can.
How do you take part in Furusato Nozei?
First, you need to find out what tax bracket you are in and how much you can donate (without paying extra).
Then you pick the area you want to support and pay an initial 2000 Yen fee.
You ‘Buy’ the item/s you like. You receive the item(s) together with a receipt. The receipt you will use later to get the amount you spent deducted from your residency tax (if you do your own taxes).
If you work for a company that does your taxes for you (like most people), you can use the ‘One-step exemption’.
To use the one-step exemption, you need to fill out a form. With this system, you can give up to five areas.
It looks difficult, is it worth it?
Furusato Nozei is a nice idea. But figuring out how much you can spend and claiming the tax return can be daunting because most things about taxes can be.
And because most of the web pages are in Japanese, there is also the language wall.
Here is an Instagram worthy inspirational quote to inspire you.
‘So why not use the opportunity to help others, to help yourself and learn more about your taxes. And improve your Japanese. ‘
But seriously now, Furusato Nozei is worth looking into.