Someone's been a very bad boy
I often say the tax office is one of the best public offices to deal with in Japan. Staff are polite, helpful, and supportive. They don't seem to see their job as getting money out of you, but instead try to support and help you through the system.
A few weeks ago I got a terrifying letter. Sent by the city tax department, they noted that I had seemingly failed to declare some part-time income, and that I would have to submit a revised tax statement.
This alarmed me somewhat, so I went in to speak to them the next day.
Once I'd found the right place (took a while, as no one seemed to know where it was either), a very nice man listened to my story, then sat down to help me fill in the paperwork.
The undeclared income was about 200,000 yen, so I would owe something like 30,000 yen on it.
Fair enough, I thought. Let's just get this over with.
The man then said: "You must have had some expenses to go along with this. Can you remember them?"
I replied that, yes, perhaps there were some expenses, but I didn't have the receipts.
"No problem", he replied. "Let's get some of them down".
Prompted by the officer, I came up with some travel, percentages of phone bills, omiyage(???), and a couple of other random things. Surprisingly, one of the only genuine expenses, website hosting costs, wasn't allowed. Go figure.
"Hmmm", said the man. "I really want to get your taxes under 9,000 yen. Can we put down something like printer ink?".
"Uh, okay?" I said.
"Done", he said with some satisfaction. "You should get a bill in the post in a few weeks time for around 9,000 yen. Thank you very much."
I walked out somewhat bemused. Only in Japan would a tax officer take someone who was prepared to pay their taxes in full and unilaterally spend twenty minutes trying to lower them (and succeeding!).
I can only imagine how the UK tax office would treat someone who 'forgot' to declare some income, or even worse, the IRS ;)
So I'm a fan of Japanese tax officers. My wife, as a self-employed small business owner, has had much less pleasant experiences.
How about you? Any tax office stories?