This is a really stupid system
Have you heard of the furusato nozei (hometown tax deduction)?
I think there are three levels, like in this absolutely incredible explanation of Inception.
On one level, furusato nozei allows people to decide where their local inhabitant taxes go. Instead of paying them to the city they live in, they can send them to another locality in Japan. I guess the people that designed the system imagined people would send it back to the rural areas they moved away from. This level seems fine, even laudable.
On another level, people don't have to send the tax to their own hometown. Instead, they can designate pretty much anywhere in Japan. So localities started sending people little 'thank you' gifts, in exchange for their tax yen. And of course this escalated, so we now have portal websites full of rankings of the various 'gifts' offered as bribes. Prime beef seems to be popular, as is rice, or beer. At this point the cost of the gifts probably uses up a lot of the tax donation. This level is where things start getting a bit corrupt.
On the deepest level, I think this is a net negative for the country. Basically you can send your local inhabitant taxes somewhere else in exchange for an extravagant gift. You pay a 2,000 yen fee, and receive much more than that in 'gifts'. The locality you sent your tax to is happy to spend most of it on the 'gift' because any tax yen they get is a bonus. The city where you live gets screwed out of the taxes they need to provide you with services. And this level shows why I think the system won't be sustainable, particularly if lots of people start doing it.
So under the furusato nozei system, the individual gets some swag, the receiving locality gets a slight increase in tax revenue, and the country as a whole loses out.
Naturally I decided to try this out for myself :)
This is the government site explaining the system. I am going to ask our accountant about how much we can 'donate', as it depends on your income and how much local inhabitants tax you pay. Details are here. If you choose a locality that supports it, you don't have to do a tax return either.
Rather than search for the most lucrative offer possible, I am planning to send my taxes to Osato (you may remember the name from my post about moving to the country) as we may end up buying property there and it's a small town office. According to their website, they only had 19 donations last year, so becoming a donor should bump me up a few places in the Akiya Bank queue :)
If you want to avoid an otherwise unnecessary tax return, you need to finish everything by the 10th of January, so if you are interested in trying this you should get a move on.
Anyone doing this already? How are you finding it? What are the best deals/sources of information?