How to Set Up Business in JapanSection 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 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.
    *1 :
    "Domicile" as used in (1) 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.
    *2 :
    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.
Table 3-6 Scope of personal taxable income
Type of residence Income other than foreign-sourced income Foreign-sourced income
Paid within Japan Paid within Japan Paid within Japan Paid outside Japan
(Remitted to Japan)
Paid outside Japan
(Other)
residents Permanent residents Taxable Taxable Taxable Taxable Taxable
Non-residents Taxable Taxable Taxable Taxable Non-taxableExemption
Non-residents Taxable Taxable Non-taxableExemption Non-taxableExemption 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. In the method of taxation for non-residents, income tax becomes taxable by dividing income into income attributable to permanent establishment and other domestic source income depending on the existence of permanent establishment. 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 differences in the treatment such as the limit amounts 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
    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 2,200,000 yen
    Table 3-8 Employment income deductions (Applied to employment income in FY2020 and later)
    Employment income Employment income deductions
    1,625,000 yen 550,000 yen
    Over 1,625,000 yen and up to 1,800,000 yen (employment income)×40%-100,000 yen
    Over 1,800,000 yen and up to 3,600,000 yen (employment income)×30%+80,000 yen
    Over 3,600,000 yen and up to 6,600,000 yen (employment income)×20%+440,000 yen
    Over 6,600,000 yen and up to 8,500,000 yen (employment income)×10%+1,100,000 yen
    Over 8,500,000 yen 1,950,000 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 reporting the designation of a tax agent 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 their income tax. In case of tax withholding at source, the 2.1 % restoration income surtax will also be levied on the amount of withholding tax on income and collected together with the income tax. For example, the tax rate for withholding tax on interest paid to a foreign corporation is 20%, to which the restoration income surtax (20% x 2.1%) will be added, 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
    a. Address in Japan(Heir/Devisee or Legatee)
    Decedent/Donor
    (person who gave properties)
    Heir/Devisee or Legatee/Donee(person who received properties)
    Address in Japan Address in Japan
    Temporary foreign visitor *1
    Address in Japan Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable
    Address in Japan
    (Temporary foreign visitor*1)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable
    No address in Japan
    (Address in Japan within the prior 10 years*2)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable
    No address in Japan
    (Temporary foreign visitor*3)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable
    No address in Japan
    (No address in Japan over the prior 10 years or more)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable
    b. No address in Japan(Heir/Devisee or Legatee)
    Decedent/Donor
    (person who gave properties)
    Heir/Devisee or Legatee/Donee(person who received properties)
    Japanese nationality
    (Address in Japan within the prior 10 years)
    Japanese nationality
    (No address in Japan over the prior 10 years or more)
    No address in Japan
    (No Japanese nationality)
    Address in Japan Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable
    Address in Japan
    (Temporary foreign visitor*1)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable
    No address in Japan
    (Address in Japan within the prior 10 years*2)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable
    No address in Japan
    (Temporary foreign visitor*3)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable
    No address in Japan
    (No address in Japan over the prior 10 years or more)
    Both domestic and foreign properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable Only domestic properties are taxable
    (Note)
    Shaded areas in the table signify that both domestic and foreign properties are taxable and white areas signify that only domestic properties are taxable.
    *1
    Those qualified for status of residence according to Appended Table I of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and have an address in Japan for less than 10 years in the past 15 years.
    *2
    Inheritance and gift taxes will not apply to foreign properties if inheritance or gift is made after the foreign national leaves Japan on April 1, 2018 or later. However, except in cases whereif the foreign national has an address in Japan again within two years from his/her departure.
    *3
    Those without Japanese nationality and have an address in Japan for less than 10 years in the past 15 years. 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”.

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.

  1. 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. However, when the expatriate is a temporary foreign resident (see above *1), only domestic properties are taxable.
  2. 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 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 tax. However, when the expatriate is a temporary foreign resident (see above *1), only domestic properties are taxable.
  3. 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. 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 10 years prior to the inheritance/gift. To further promote the acceptance and longer residence of highly-skilled foreign professionals in Japan, inheritance and gift taxes will no longer apply to the properties outside Japan if the foreign national gives or receives properties after he/she leaves Japan on April 1, 2018 or later. However, if he/she has an address in Japan again within two years from his/her departure from Japan, the properties are taxable.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 (for gift tax, including the cases where the tax is imposed on the person who gave the property), a certain amount of the tax imposed in the foreign country will be credited against the inheritance/gift tax in Japan by the provisions of the foreign tax credits to avoid double taxation.