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Japan eyes cashless tax refunds to stem illicit resale by tourists

36 Comments

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36 Comments
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I don't understand how this would work: what if the traveler paid by cash? In that case travelers cannot be later refunded through a credit card or other cashless format, isn't it?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

"Under the planned system, passports would be scanned at airports to allow customs officials to check a traveler's purchase history."

Japan is a Democratic country?

-9 ( +17 / -26 )

Easy solution: Get rid of consumption tax.

16 ( +23 / -7 )

Just do away with it like many other countries have. You are losing out on a great revenue stream that could help your own people. The yen is not going up for the foreseeable future so tourists are making off like bandits and the Japanese gov't is losing out big time.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Is this really a big problem? I highly doubt tourists come to Japan to do this.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

But there have been a number of cases where travelers purchase massive amounts of tax-free items and resell them for profit at tax-inclusive prices before departing Japan

Electronic refund is not the ideal solution. The buyer will still get refunded anyway. It will help though, through AI to track red flags and large purchases. They should also use technology by scanning passport information at the store and feed it into a system. Do random checks at departures. Shall the goods not be found on the traveler, tax will apply.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's not even implemented the way they say it is. I purchased an Apple product years ago when traveling to Japan, didn't pay the tax on it, used it in Japan and on the plane home. At no point in the travel was I asked about it. There was a receipt stapled in the passport and I carefully watched as it was ignored by everyone I showed the passport to.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Japan is a Democratic country?

People elect their representatives in government and these elected representatives make the laws. So, yes.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

A similar system is used in Europe. Shop, get the refund documents at the shop, apply before departing airport personally or online (before check in), and get the refund. It’s simple.

*suspicious travelers may be asked to show the purchases when applying. If you fail to show them, bye bye refund.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just charge the tax for ALL products sold in Japan. Problem solved.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

and resell them for profit at tax-inclusive prices

....in other words they are selling at normal price? if so, why would someone in Japan buy from a tourist? seems to be no advantage. and how would/do tourists connect with Japanese would-be buyers I wonder. and.... though usually, articles here include LOTS of statistics, there are none here. how much of this 'fraud' is happening, at what cost to the Ji-Gov? and will the added bureaucratic costs involved in checks at airports and etc and etc recoup whatever the 'defrauded' sum may be? all sounds very weird.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The goods will most likely be buried in their checked luggage. Are they going to go through that at check in? Daft. The system would cost more to implement than it would save.

Maybe they want to switch away from cash completely, so they can track all spending 24/7/365, particularly Yak money.

If I bought anything expensive in Japan, UK customs would tax me on it at LHR. So why would I bother?

It is worth taking copies of your receipts for expensive tech with you, when you cross borders, so you can prove where you got them.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The Duty Free Scam is one of the Oldest and Open scam o have ever encountered.

Way over priced to start with, Fake products all over the floor, same products could be purchased just out the door for much less so why people continue to buy?

simple they been fooled and told it is tax free for years. The word Free is doing the trick.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Who cares what they do with the items they bought for tax free afterwards? They paid, the companies and the retailers have made their cut and the government has helped attract more tourists to Japan by offereing tax-free products to travellers. What they do with them is up to them.

Even if travelers are reselling to locals here in Japan, the locals aren't making out very well since the travellers are selling them at marked-up prices and/or slightly less expensive than regular stores here but at a higher risk to the buyer.

And like what a poster above said, if this is going to cause all this new expensive beauracratic procedure, then just tax the items and get rid of this so called "problem" which I don't really see it as such.

The government always has to try to get a bigger cut of everything. Always so greedy.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Who are buying these products and where?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

With the weak yen discount why offer tax free good at all?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Who will they sell something they bought in Japan to someone else in Japan?!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Making rules to solve problems that don't exist - hmm, sounds familiar.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

But there have been a number of cases where travelers purchase massive amounts of tax-free items and resell them for profit at tax-inclusive prices before departing Japan, according to the sources.

Who would buy items at tax inclusive prices from a tourist?

Nonsensical

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Seeing as we dont really need to encourage more tourism - why dont we do away with the tax free scheme ? They will come anyway.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Also i dont imagine the 8% at most profit margin these scammers could make…… is going to amount to much overall.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Example: retailer operating in japan (foreign or Japanese), with a 'visiting' friend/relative who buys 1MJPY of products tax free inside Japan, possibly/probably with money from the retailer, doesn't pay 100kJPY consumption tax, then transfers that product to the retailer who can then resell normally, but in the meantime they split the refund and pocket 50kJPY each.

Pretty sure it's something like this rather than 5,000JPY purchases that is the target.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Welp, so much for my venture of selling UniQlo socks in alleyways to make a profit of ¥68 a pair

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Just charge the tax for ALL products sold in Japan. Problem solved.

correct, im an exporter all the products I buy in Japan come with the 10% tax, its not until after a year and Ive submitted all my taxes that I get a refund. April or May

should be same for tourists, except they can get the refund when they leave with all the goods theyve purchased, effectively making them exporters also.

if you selling a product to another country corporation individual outside of Japan theyre not liable for Japanese consumption tax as they dont live in the country and dont use any of the government services inside Japan

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What a deep-state country.....Tax this tax that, and people blindly follow.....

1 ( +7 / -6 )

What a deep-state country

Another conspiracy theory! How fun!

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Limit the number of purchases if that is a concern.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Flea market apps are rife with stuff like this. It only makes sense on big ticket items so I’m guessing we know the posters here ain’t buying Rolexes and Gucci bags lol. The several man saved by having no tax, passing on a few thousand yen to a tourist/plant for getting the item and then pocketing the difference when you resell it for cheaper than the store but higher than the tax break is a genuine plan if not an annoying one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who will they sell something they bought in Japan to someone else in Japan?!

Yes, an Iphone that is 10% off has great resell potential. There have been reports of people doing this hundreds of times.

I think this refund is ridiculous. Poor people cannot afford flights to Japan and do not need discounted shopping. Tourists are richer than residents of Japan by absolutely miles!! The admin for this refund, and the chasing up any scammers is being funded by the Japanese taxpayer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Who are buying these products and where?

Japan is considering introducing cashless tax refunds for inbound Chinese travelers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Overall completely ridiculous to even have a 5000 yen minimum and all the effort to seal the bags etc. No where else does that. If a tourist wants to shop for good then they should be tax free. That said goods and services are usually exempt as is food. Only tax free for these things in most countries are at the airports. Sadly Japan doesn’t have proper airport planning to have shopping available so they need to use private business. Tracking anyone with a passport etc is such a privacy issue that a normal Japanese person would not allow. As for reselling them to people who live here, really that’s just law enforcement of found and deportation. The overall plastic bag thing is ridiculous as are not allowing snacks and drinks purchaed to be had in country. If you don’t want to allow them consumed here then just don’t make them tax free.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Government happily spending vast sums of our taxes to clamp down on what frankly sounds like more of an urban myth than a serious business model.

But there have been a number of cases

How many cases?

where travelers purchase massive amounts of tax-free items

Define massive.

and resell them for profit at tax-inclusive prices before departing Japan

To whom? This makes absolutely zero commercial sense.

according to the sources.

what sources?

This proposed profligacy sounds more like an amakudari scheme for customs officials or the like, managed by that huge staffing agency.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's the Chinese/Vietnamese doing the business of household products/gadgets and American/European doing the business of rare Japanese items. Tax free products resold at triple cost to innocent customers.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Just do away with Duty Free... it is a gimmick anyway. Those stores at the airports and train stations have high overheads so the products are no bargains to begin with.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can't imagine this even being feasible unless someone had roots in Japan. The vast majority of tourists wouldn't have a clue how to sell things, let alone have the language skills.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Taxes in Japan are crippling. I was talking to a guy from Hong Kong yesterday, a business owner. He told me that his salary was around ¥600,000 and that his tax on this was very little. I have no reason to doubt him. With this salary in Japan, he wouldn't take home two thirds of that. Why do we have to pay such high taxes in Japan? To build up the military and protect us against China?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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