The increase in the consumption tax from 5% to 8%, effective from April 1, raises the tax burden on the average wage-earner's household by an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 yen per year. No amount of penny pinching can escape the tax bite. But, reports Nikkan Gendai (May 16), there is a way to get some of it back, at least for some people.
"Local governments are offering subsidies," says Mie Ido, author of "Kuni kara moraeru okane no hon" (the book about money you can get from the government). "In particular, all that people of child-raising age or those who own their homes need to do is apply, and they can expect various forms of relief. Most if not all of the money that's collected in the form of taxes is returned to them."
While most people are familiar with home mortgage tax deductions and child allotments entered on their income tax form, fewer seem to know about the special deals, subject to meeting the necessary conditions, that they may be eligible to receive from local governments.
"These governments haven't been very energetic about spreading the word, so most people don't know about it," Ido explains. "And naturally if you don't take the steps to apply for it, you can't receive it."
"Local governments all want to have families raising children," Ido observes. "When these children grow up, the localities will have more people contributing to the locality's tax base. And since people in Tokyo have the highest average incomes in the country, it makes sense for Tokyo locales to make efforts to attract more families with children."
What sort of government generosity are we talking about here? Well, let's look at residents of Tokyo's 23 wards. Families in Minato Ward, for instance, can expect monetary rebates of outlays for childbirth and hospitalization of up to 420,000 yen; there's a one-time 80,000 yen payout for the birth of each child (Shibuya Ward); a taxi voucher for expectant mothers worth 10,000 yen (Chuo Ward); an outright gift of 200,000 yen for each child from the third onward (Nerima Ward). Then there's subsidizing of outlays for medical care up to a child's 18th birthday (Chiyoda Ward); child support vouchers worth 40,000 yen at birth, plus annual gifts on the infant's birthday up to age 2 (Suginami Ward); a university entry stipend of 200,000 yen, plus tuition scholarship of 350,000 yen per year.
Other forms of financial incentives include picking up half the tab for planting greenery around one's residence (Shinagawa Ward); greenery subsidy of up to 250,000 yen (Setagaya Ward); subsidy for rainwater filtration apparatus (up to 400,000 yen) (Nerima Ward); and a subsidy for installation of a raw waste disposal kitchen unit, up to 20,000 yen (Arakawa Ward).
Shinjuku Ward provides a 30,000 yen monthly housing subsidiary for households with annual income of less than 5.1 million yen per year. This adds up to 360,000 yen per year. And if families receive these payouts for the maximum allotted 5-year period, that comes to a total of 1.8 million yen.
"One thing you need to be careful about is that the maximum number of eligible recipients is usually fixed," Ido warns. "So the early bird gets the worm. That's especially the case for the most generous types of payouts. It's a good idea to read the PR publications that the ward offices circulate, and if there's something that you think you can receive, apply for it as soon as you can."
The article concludes on the note that the items introduced here are just a few examples. So if you think you're eligible for some form of government largess, it's probably worth looking into.© Japan Today