Government generosity awaits astute subsidy shoppers


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

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All these are chicken feed compared to the bailouts from the US government to Wall Street and General Motors back in 2008/9.

-3 ( +2 / -5 ) is this only for Tokyo then? How can people ask for these perks at a countryside city hall? It would be great if the author would have included more info about how to get in on these deals.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Um, go to your local city hall or tax office and ask would be a pretty good bet I would say.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

NZ2011 - Of course! I am not that daft but thanks for thinking that I am. I want to know what should one say without sounding crazy? It lists the discounts available in Tokyo so it would be easy enough to ask about them but what about people who live in places that may or may not have these programs? WHat can I say then? "Is there any dicounts I qualify for?" Is there a catch all phrase for these kind of programs? I think it would be great to include some useful vocab for those people who don't know this kind of Japanese.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I think it would be great to include some useful vocab for those people who don't know this kind of Japanese.

If you are illiterate to the extent that you can't ask a simple question, they probably don't have any subsidies for you. They are aimed mostly at citizens and long-term residents. They aren't for "just off the boat" foreigners already looking for a handout.

How can people ask for these perks at a countryside city hall?

As the article says Local governments are offering subsidies . These are just a small sample of those avaialble. WIth Tokyo's 23 special wards, 26 cities, 1 district, & 4 sub prefectures, there is no way the article covers everything available in every municipally of Tokyo. What do you want? Every subsidiary of every municipality of all 47 prefectures?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Um, go to your local city hall or tax office and ask would be a pretty good bet I would say.

Ask about what though - that's rather the issue here. Local governments aren't really talking about it and if your city workers are anything like mine, they won't have a clue about half these things either. I think hitting the website for the city/ward would be better.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

“Local governments are offering subsidies,”

Local governments’ assistances should be a good thing to do since such efforts would alleviate some of the pains put on less well-heeled families and individuals after the tax-hike.

Although I think that Japan’s consumption tax hike may be served as bitter and somehow necessary medicine for its long term financial health, central government should make a consumption tax exemption lists of household essentials including regular groceries and medication for next tax-hike slated in next year; in this way, ordinal people won’t be burdened excessively.

Japan’s central government should be aware that indifferent tax hike leave poor families to shoulder more burdens than their counterparts, such issue should be addressed properly by policy makers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Knowitall: I am sorry...not a newbie to Japan at all but rather a long term resident with a family here. I even gave birth in Japan all in Japanese! Shocking, isn't it!

I can definitely ask questions however I am also familiar with the system here like Tmarie pointed out. I can go to city hall an ask for some info but due to the way things are run, I am sure I would get a blank state, a head scratch, and eeeee to-.... And then get to wait for an hour until the track someone down who knows what's going on. If I could go in with something more specific, like a term for "special discount/rebate/subsidy for situations in all aspect of life that have been introduced due to the recent tax increase" I am sure I would get more help. And I wasn't even specifically wanting to know about my special little situation but just in general so those people who are less confident in Japanese would also be able to get help.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Galapagos, you do know that those bailouts saved the U.S. from a worse crash, and in many cases turned a profit for the government? I know everyone has politics but let's not get silly.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

" you do know that those bailouts saved the U.S. from a worse crash, and in many cases turned a profit for the government?"

That's the Mr Magoo view.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You mean the non-blinded by republican crap view.

AKA the truth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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