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* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, November 28, 2004 Issue No. 35

- What's new
- Weekly Bargain Roundup
- Frugal tips
- Credits

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Dear Frugal Readers,

A friend sent me this frantic email the other day, in a bit of frugal crisis:
"I got a nasty surprise in the mail yesterday - a very, very large tax
bill from a city in Saitama. It's not even the city I live in!! What gives?"

This individual recently moved from Saitama to another part of Tokyo,
and has also recently started working from her home as a part-time English
teacher after quitting her well-paid job as a trainer with a large English
school in June. My friend was naturally troubled as she's taken a major cut
in income, but was just hit with a large tax bill. Indeed, what gives?

Well, the public payment (taxes, health care, and pension) systems in Japan
are fairly confusing, but an understanding of them can help both explain and
avoid the above situation. The most important thing to understand is that
most Japanese citizens rarely have to bother with filing a tax return or
figuring out their taxes themselves: companies do this (called 'nenmatsu
chosei') at the end of every year for thier employees, and adjust their
pay accordingly. If you are a full-time or near full-time employee, chances
are your company calculates both your income taxes (shotokuzei) and local
taxes (jyuminzei), and pays them from deductions in your salary, without you
ever noticing. (Local taxes are also known as resident taxes).

So, why the sudden large tax bill? If you are required to pay local taxes,
the city you reside in on January 1 of each year will be the city you owe.
Resident taxes in Japan are calculated based on the previous year's income.
Thus, the local taxes you pay in 2004 are based on your 2003 (Jan-Dec 2003)
income. For salaried persons, these taxes are automatically withdrawn from
your salary starting in June of that year, and are paid every month until
May of the following year.

So why the big tax bill? When she quit in June 2004, my friend still owed
payments for a full year of residents' taxes, based on her 2003 salary.
As her company was no longer making the payments by withholding the money
from her paycheck, she was now responsible for paying the tax herself.
Even after she moved to another city, she still owed taxes to that city
as she was an official resident there on 1 January 2004.

For foreigners, the rules are special: you are not required to pay Japanese
local taxes for your first year of residence in Japan. After that year,
you are now liable for local (or residents') taxes.

As to how to avoid paying the tax: good luck! If you are leaving Japan and
unlikely to ever come back again, it will be hard for the local tax office to
find you. It might make it difficult for you to receive a pension tax
refund, however (though this is uncertain, as the local tax offices and
national pension agency don't seem to talk to each other much).

If you are staying in Japan and are having difficulty paying the tax due
to financial hardship, bring your tax bill (it comes in a small booklet
with tearoff sheets, though the color differs by locality) and your most
recent salary statement and/or a 'taishoku shomei sho' (official document
saying you've left your job) to the 'jyuminzei ka' (resident's tax office)
window of the town or city you live in. In most cases, some explanation on
your part, and proof that you really can't pay the bill, will often persuede
the tax man to lower or cancel your bill altogether. However, I don't recommend
this unless you really cannot pay the bill.

Frugally yours,

Wendy J. Imura

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This week's Bargain Roundup will introduce shopinprivate.com, a unique
website that delivers certain necesssary (and sometimes embarrassing) personal
goods that cannot be purchased in Japan. This is the only site I have found
that will ship certain personal care products to Japan. Check out the site for
a full range of products (www.shopinprivate.com), but here are some highlights.
(Shipping prices to Japan are quick and reasonable.)

For Men & Women: Certain Dry Deodorant (5.29 dollars)
Feeling the pressure of life in Japan? This extra strength stuff will apparently
stay on for eighty-four (yep, 84) hours. The website suggests that it be
used 'sparingly'. "The Strongest Anitperspirant You Can Get without A

For Men: Nair For Men (6.99 dollars, 8 oz.)
Unsightly hair in places you'd rather not shave? Try Nair for Men. Certainly
not something you'd like to try asking the pharmacist for in your second

DHS Fragrance-Free Shampoo (9.99 dollars, 16 oz)
Hair and scalp irritated by Japan's pollution, stress, and other factors?
This fragrance-free shampoo will gently wash your cares away. "It is
especially for pH balance. DHS Clear Shampoo is recommended by

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Also, check out www.frugaljapan.com, updated monthly!

We are entering the time of year for Christmas card sending, and
one frugal reader on FrugalJapan YahooGroup found the following

"If you are sending Christmas cards overseas, dont forget that you can send a
Greeting Card (upto 25g) for a cheaper rate EVEN if it is not a `standard
size`. Costs 110 yen to the UK and USA. You need to write `GREETING CARD` on
the envelope. (This could save you 150yen per card!)

Also, I KNOW you can send Christmas cards as PRINTED MATTER for even
cheaper, but it`s such a headache to explain this to the staff at my small
local PO. In this case,if the card is under 20g it will only cost 80yen (tuck
the flap in rather than stick it)."

Keep the good information coming!

Subscribers: 509 as of November 28, 2004


Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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