How to Set Up Business in Japan Laws & Regulations on Setting Up Business in Japan

Section 3. Taxes in Japan

3.7 Overview of individual tax system

All individuals, regardless of nationality, are classified as either residents or non-residents. Individual income tax comprises self-assessed income tax and withholding income tax. Self-assessed income tax will be levied on the individual's income for the calendar year.

3.7.1 Concept of residence and taxable income

  1. Residents
    Persons having a domicile in Japan(*) and persons having a residence in Japan for one year or more are termed residents. The worldwide income of residents, regardless of the location of the source of income, is subject to income tax.

    (Note)Non-permanent residents: Residents having no Japanese citizenship and having a domicile or residence in Japan for five years or less within the period of ten years are non-permanent residents.
    The scope of taxation for non-permanent residents corresponds to that for residents, but tax will not be assessed in Japan on income sourced outside Japan as long as that income is not paid within Japan or is not remitted to Japan. However, the salary paid based on the work in Japan is applicable to domestic-sourced income even if it is paid outside Japan, and income tax will be assessed summing the salary paid within and outside Japan.

     
  2. Non-residents
    Persons not qualifying as residents are termed non-residents. Japanese income tax for non-residents will be assessed on income sourced within Japan. As described in 3.4.4 above, the scope of taxable income for withholding tax on non-residents is covered under the provisions for domestic-sourced income, so, except in special cases, taxation for non-residents is now more commonly completed only through withholding at source procedures.

    * "Domicile" as used above refers to the principal base and center of one's life. "Residence" refers to a location in which an individual continually resides for a certain time but which does not qualify as a base and center of his/her life.

Table 3-6 Scope of personal taxable income


Type of residence

Category of income Income other than foreign-sourced income Foreign-sourced income
Paid within Japan Paid outside Japan Paid within Japan Paid outside Japan
Remitted to Japan Other
residents Permanent residents
Non-residents Taxable
Non-residents Non-taxableExemption

3.7.2 Self-assessed income tax

  1. Self-assessed income tax on residents
    Income is calculated using methods established for each of a number of income classifications. The tax is calculated by subtracting the various income deductions from the total amount of income and then multiplying the difference, which is the amount of taxable income, by the progressive tax rates below. Any withholding income tax levied on the income beforehand will be deducted from the calculated tax.
  2. Self-assessed income tax on non-residents
    Non-residents are classified by their circumstances into (a) non-residents having an office, etc., in Japan, (b) non-residents continuously engaged in construction or assembly in Japan for one year or more, or doing business through a designated agent in Japan, or (c) other non-residents.
    Taxable income is calculated within the scope of income established for each classification. The method of taxation for non-residents will also change in terms of income tax pertaining to 2017 or later. The amount of self-assessed income tax levied on non-residents is, as a rule, calculated in the same manner as for residents (subject to certain limits such as non-application of applicable income deductions and foreign tax deductions). Non-residents who earn salary income paid for services provided in Japan and not deemed subject to withholding tax in Japan must file a return and pay a 20.42% tax on the total amount of that salary.
  3. The tax rates for self-assessed income tax on individual income (in the case of residents and of aggregate taxation of non-residents) are as shown below.

    Table 3-7 Individual income tax rates

    Brackets of taxable income Tax rates
    - Or under 1,950,000 yen 5%
    Over 1,950,000 yen Or under 3,300,000 yen 10%
    Over 3,300,000 yen Or under 6,950,000 yen 20%
    Over 6,950,000 yen Or under 9,000,000 yen 23%
    Over 9,000,000 yen Or under 18,000,000 yen 33%
    Over 18,000,000 yen Or under 40,000,000 yen 40%
    Over 40,000,000 yen - 45%
  4. Income tax on employment income is calculated based on the amount obtained by deducting the following employment income deductions from income.

    Table 3-8 Employment income deductions

    Employment income Employment income deductions
    Up to 1,625,000 yen 650,000 yen
    Over 1,625,000 yen and up to 1,800,000 yen (employment income) x 40%
    Over 1,800,000 yen and up to 3,600,000 yen (employment income) x 30% + 180,000 yen
    Over 3,600,000 yen and up to 6,600,000 yen (employment income) x 20% + 540,000 yen
    Over 6,600,000 yen and up to 10,000,000 yen (employment income) x 10% + 1,200,000 yen
    Over 10,000,000 yen and up to 12,000,000 yen (employment income) x 5% + 1,700,000 yen*
    Over 12,000,000 yen* 2,300,000 yen

    * From 2017 onwards, employment income deduction for the income of over 10,000,000 yen will be 2,200,000 yen.

3.7.3 Withholding income tax

The withholding income tax for residents and non-residents is as described in 3.4.2 and 3.4.4.

3.7.4 Filing and payment

Residents must submit an income tax return for the income earned each year, except when tax payment procedures have been completed through withholding at source, and must pay the tax owed between February 16 and March 15 of the following year. Persons whose total income does not exceed total deductions and persons who receive salary income subject to withholding tax at source (year-end adjustment) from only one payer not exceeding 20 million yen in that year and who have no other income exceeding 200,000 yen do not, as a rule, need to file a return.
As a rule, non-residents file and pay taxes following the same regulations as residents. However, non-residents leaving Japan without designating a tax agent and reporting this fact to the director of the taxation office must submit an income tax return and pay the tax owed prior to leaving Japan.

3.7.5 Restoration income surtax

From January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2037, individuals and corporations will be subject to a 2.1% restoration income surtax on the amount of withholding tax on income and self-assessed income tax. For example, the tax rate under domestic law for withholding tax on interest paid to a foreign corporation is 20%, to which will be added restoration income surtax (20% x 2.1%), resulting in a total 20.42% tax withheld at source.
Note that a restoration income surtax is not levied where the withholding tax rate provided for under domestic law is reduced or eliminated by tax treaty.

3.7.6 Individual inhabitant taxes, individual enterprise tax

"Individual inhabitant taxes" is the collective term for prefectural tax and municipal tax on individual income, and persons having a domicile etc. in Japan as of January 1 each year are subject to these taxes. Individual inhabitant taxes consist of an income-graded component and a flat-rate (fixed amount) component etc. The income-graded component is assessed on income for the preceding year and, except in special cases, taxable income for these taxes is calculated in accordance with the provisions for calculating income for income tax purposes. Inhabitant tax returns must be filed by March 15, but persons submitting self-assessed income tax returns do not have to file again for individual inhabitant tax. The standard rates of individual inhabitant taxes for the income-graded component are as shown below.

Table 3-9 Standard rates of individual inhabitant tax (income-graded component)

Prefectural tax rate Uniformity 4%
Municipal tax rate Uniformity 6%

(Note) The standard rate of tax for the flat-rate component is 1,000 yen for prefectural inhabitant tax and 3,000 yen for municipal inhabitant tax.For 10 years from 2014 to 2023, however, these rates will respectively be 1,500 yen and 3,500 yen.
Tax rates may differ from the standard tax rate depending on the local government concerned.

Individuals engaged in certain businesses specified in local tax laws must pay enterprise taxes. Taxable income for enterprise tax purposes is generally calculated in accordance with the provisions for calculating income for income tax purposes, except where special stipulations apply. Returns must be filed by March 15, and taxes must be paid in August and November in accordance with tax notices issued by the prefectural government. Individual enterprise tax rates range from 3% to 5%, depending on the type of business.

3.7.7 Inheritance tax and gift tax

  1. Taxpayers and scope of taxable properties

    Table 3-10 Inheritance & gift taxpayers and scope of taxable properties


    Decedent/Donor

    Heir/Devisee or Legatee/Donee
    Address in Japan
    No address in Japan
    Japanese nationality No Japanese nationality

    Address in Japan

    within the prior 5 years

    No address in Japan over
    the prior 5 years or more
    Address in Japan
    No address in Japan Address in Japan within the prior 5 years Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable
    No address in Japan over
    the prior 5 years or more
    Only domestic properties are taxable
    Hereinafter, a decedent and/or donor is called a person who gave properties and an heir, devisee, legatee and/or donee is called a person who received properties.
  2. When expatriates received properties by inheritance/gift while in Japan
    If a person has an address in Japan at the time of inheritance/gift, the person who received the properties is an inheritance and gift taxpayer. In this case, regardless of the nationality of the person who received the properties and the address of the person who gave the properties, all of the properties acquired are taxable. In other words, not only properties located in Japan but also properties located outside the country are subject to inheritance/gift tax. Even in the case of expatriates having acquired a property outside Japan by inheritance and so on from their family living in their home country while the expatriates stay in Japan as a representative, the property is subject to Japanese inheritance/gift tax.
  3. When expatriates passed away or gave a gift while in Japan
    When a foreign resident acquired a property by inheritance and so on from an expatriate in Japan, if the address of the person who gave the properties at the time of giving the properties was in Japan, all of the properties acquired are subject to inheritance/gift tax, regardless of the nationality of the person who received the properties. In other words, not only properties located in Japan but also properties located outside the country are subject to the inheritance/gift tax. Even in the case of expatriates having passed away by an accident etc. while in Japan as a representative and their family to inherit such property are living in their home country, the property is subject to Japanese inheritance/gift tax.
  4. After expatriates have returned home on completion of their business in Japan
    When both the person who gave the properties and the person who received the properties have no address in Japan, only the properties located in Japan are subject to inheritance/gift tax. So properties located outside Japan is not within the scope of the inheritance/gift tax. However, in the case of the person who received the properties possessing Japanese nationality, not only the properties located in Japan but also the properties located outside the country are subject to inheritance/gift tax if either the person who gave the properties or the person who received the properties had an address in Japan within the five years prior to the time of the inheritance/gift.
  5. Tax rates of inheritance tax and gift tax
    The rates are between 10% to 55% for both the inheritance tax and gift tax, but there is a difference between the inheritance tax and the gift tax in the taxable amount each tax rate is applied.
  6. Foreign tax credits
    If a person who has acquired a property located outside Japan by inheritance or gift and the property is subject to a tax corresponding to the inheritance/gift tax in the country where the property is located, a certain amount of the tax imposed in the foreign country will be credited against the tax in Japan by the provisions of the foreign tax credits to avoid double taxation.