FW-43 -- Kakutei-Shinkoku - It's Tax Return Time!

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * * * 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, February 6, 2005 Issue No. 43

- What's new (Kakutei-Shinkoku - It's Tax Return Time!)
- Update from Frugal Japan No. 42: Another Good Charitable Organization
- Frugal tips (Cut your Electricity Bills - Refrigerators)
- Credits

SIGN UP FOR FREE!: Send a blank email to

======== ICA Event =========================
ICA Feb. 17 Event
Presenter -John Kirch, Regional Director for Asia/Pacific,
Ubiquity Software Corporation
Topic - VoIP & SIP are the Future of Telecommunications
RSVP required Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005
Time: 6:30 Doors open, sit down dinner included
Cost: 3,000 yen (members), 5,500 yen (non-members),
Free drink at bar for this event
Open to all - Location is Foreign Correspondents' Club
============ AMT Group's Development ========
Exclusive "Leadership Awareness Seminar" at AMT Group's
Development Den in Yotsuya. 10:00 - 15:00, March 24 & 25
In a small group (maximum 6 participants) you will:
* Learn and apply new leadership tools
* Access over 100 ways to motivate yourself and others
* Enjoy presenting before a group of peers and professional
Total investment: JPY97,000.
E-mail seminars@amt-group.com for details and to register.


Dear Frugal Readers,

It's tax time again - at least, it is in Japan. Though, as a
foreign resident, it's really hard to notice. No official
countdowns to April 15, as we see in the United States. No large
packets of forms delivered to every home. As I've mentioned in
a past issue, taxes for most Japanese citizens are taken
care of by their employers. Taxes are automatically calculated
and withdrawn from the monthly salary, with a year-end adjustment
(nenmatsu chosei) in December when a little bit extra comes
back (usually).

However, a certain segment of the population (mostly self-employed
folks or those with more than one source of income) has to file a
tax return every year. This is called "kakutei shinkoku," and with
the Japanese government implementing a number of tax breaks that
must be filed for independently, the number of people filing is
increasing. But why would a foriegn resident of Japan want
to file anyway?

Well, there are several reasons. The most obvious is that in some
cases you might be entitled to a tax return, which means filing
(even if it is difficult) puts money in your pocket. Another
reason is that it's required by law if you make over a certain
amount of money in addition to your regular salary, are
self-employed (and you do not have an accountant file for you),
or meet certain other conditions.

So, who should file? Well, if any of the following conditions
applies, you should think about filing, as you might get cash back:
1) if during calendar 2004 you had out-of-pocket medical expenses
(not covered by health insurance) in excess of 100,000 yen including
hospital stays, dentistry, out-patient visits, pregnancy-related
expenses and all legitimate medical expenses
2) if you purchased a new home (including a "mansion" [condo]),
you may be eligible to receive 1 percent of your year-end housing
loan balance as a tax exemption (several conditions must be met)
3) if you received stock dividends, were a victim of theft or a natural
disaster, quit your job in the middle of 2004 and haven't found another
yet, and other conditions.
(Taken from Nikkei Woman's Tax Filing Guide, Feb. 2005)

How do you file? Well, the good news is that unlike other
countries, Japan still offers free tax advice. Each locality's
tax office holds a monthlong series of sessions at a central
location, usually from Feb 16th through March 16th, including some
Saturdays. Call your city government to ask where the "kakutei
shinkoku madoguchi" is. Then simply bring yourself, your receipts
and relevant documents, and proof of income(called a gensenchoshuhyo,
which can be received from your employer) to the tax advice location.
While it can be confusing at first, they will generally fill out
your entire tax form for you there! I advise arriving early (about
8:45 or 9:00 am), and being prepared to spend at least two or three
hours there. You can also fill out the forms yourself (even online),
and numerous books are sold that tell you how to do this. This said,
most of the information is only in Japanese, so the simplest way to
file is to visit the tax office yourself.

While it might seem daunting at first, doing kakutei shinkoku
is a strangely empowering experience - you gain a better
understanding of the Japanese "system," and can (in some cases)
get several tens of thousands of yen returned to you - which I
think is a good return on an investment of a morning spent at
the tax office.

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura
Email Marketing Works
Study after study shows that email marketing ranks among the
most effective, and cost-effective, methods of reaching your
audience. However, constructing an effective email marketing
campaign involves far more than simply stuffing your customer's
inboxes. Follow up mailing, reporting, personalization,
autoresponders and, of course, crafting of the appropriate
message are all essential components of a successful campaign.

Ashley Associates Ltd. (http://www.ashleyassociates.co.jp) is
a leading provider of email marketing solutions. For more
information, or to request a free white paper please contact
+++ Update from Frugal Watch No. 42:
Another Good Charitable Organization

Last week's Frugal Watch featured information about good
charitable organizations to donate used clothing and other
items to. Well, another location has been brought to my
attention. I would like to share it with you.

(Taken with permission from another email list.)
"A children's home that holds a bazaar twice a year
(June and November) accepts donations of clothing, kitchen
wares, electronics, etc. Unfortunately they are not able
to pay delivery costs, so chakubarai (recipient paying
shipping charges) would not be an option. This is a
reputable place that houses 40 kids from elementary through
high school who have problems at home. The director and his
wife have been with the home for many many years.
They prefer that donations be sent by May 14 at the latest
so that they can get everything sorted out in time.

Mr. Wada, Director
Kodomo no Sono
2552 Tsutsumi
Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture
Tel: 0467 52 8526
(in Japanese)"

We hope that people can come to the aid of this good organization!
----------- ADVERTISEMENT ------------------
Interested in reasonably-priced translation and interpreting services?
Check out our affiliated service, Nihongo Benriya, for
information about our specialties (koseki tohon and other official
document translation) and prices.

(Both Frugal Japan.com and Nihongobenriya.com are Occams Inc.-affiliated

A few practical tips from one of my favorite Japanese frugal sites:

*Place your refrigerator about 2 cm from the side of the wall,
and about 10 cm away from the wall in back. If possible, try not
to put anything on top of the refrigerator either. This alone
can reduce the fridge's energy consumption by about 10-40
percent. Your refrigerator's customer manual should have
information about proper placement.

*Opening the refrigerator door for just 10 seconds raises the
internal temperature by about 5C. Try and limit the amount of
door opening and closing, and take out what you need for cooking
all at once. If you can make this a habit, it can save about
1,880 yen/year.

*Stuffing your refrigerator too full of food can reduce
efficiency of cool air circulation, and result in excess energy
usage. Throwing out old food, using small containers, and not
putting unnecessary items in the refrigerator can save some
6,380 yen a year. (Calculations taken from the website.)

================= B U R E A U ====================
- Serviced Apartments in Tokyo -
BUREAU serviced apartment complex offers an attractive
exterior design and stylish interior furnishings. A concierge
is available on weekdays to assist our special guests. A
perfect alternative to hotel living, BUREAU is the choice for
demanding executives on short to extended stays in Tokyo.

MONTHLY & EXECUTIVE serviced apartments for RENT

===== CHIBA TODAY--Subscribe to Japan's New Biotech Newsletter ====
If you're involved in biotechnology or genome research, Chiba
Prefecture wants your business. It is aggressively building
its resume as Japan's leader in these 21st century industries.
Japan is the world's 2nd largest biotech/genome market. Our
newsletter will bring you information from Chiba Prefecture, as
well as the Japan market at large. Sign up for our newsletter here:

Subscribers: 644 as of February 6, 2005

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

SIGN UP: Send a blank email to

Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the
editor at frugal-editors@japaninc.com

For more information on advertising in this newsletter:

Copyright 2005 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.