How To Register Family Members To Claim Dependent Deductions On Your Taxes In Japan

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Navigating taxes in any country is often a painful process, and it is no different in Japan. Giving up a percentage of your hard-earned income every year can feel like a waste. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce your income tax burden in Japan. In particular, if you have dependents, you could be entitled to significant deductions on your Japanese taxes. 

The Benefits Of Claiming A “Dependent” On Your Taxes In Japan

Register A Family Member As A Dependent In Japan In Japan, if you support a relative who meets certain conditions, you’re entitled to a dependent deduction. These deductions can significantly lower your taxable income, thereby reducing your overall tax burden. The amount of deduction that you can claim varies based on the age of the relative:

  • General Dependents (16 years and older): 380,000 yen deduction.
  • Dependents Aged 19-22: A higher deduction of 630,000 yen.
  • Elderly Dependents (70 years and older): A deduction amount of 480,000 yen.

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Deductions for Spouses

While a spouse isn’t considered a dependent relative for the dependent deduction, there are specific spouse-related deductions:

  • Spouse Deduction: For a spouse under 70 years, a 380,000 yen deduction is available. For those 70 years or older, this increases to 480,000 yen.
  • Spouse Special Deduction: If your spouse earns more than 1,030,000 yen but less than 2,016,000 yen, you may qualify for a “Spouse Special Deduction”. The amount of this deduction varies based on your income and your spouse’s income, but it can be as high as 380,000 yen.

Claiming these deductions requires accurate documentation. This includes proof of relationship, financial support documents, and in some cases, proof of remittance for non-resident relatives. Falsely claiming dependents is considered tax evasion, so ensure that all of your claims are legitimate and well-documented. This begins with determining eligibility.

Determining Eligibility For Dependent Deductions In Japan

The Benefits Of Claiming A “Dependent” On Your Taxes In Japan A deductible dependent relative in Japan isn’t just any family member. The definition is specific and tied closely to the Japanese Civil Code. A relative, as defined by the law (within the sixth degree by blood or the third degree by in-law), who depends on you for their livelihood and whose total income is 480,000 yen or less is eligible. This includes not only blood relatives but also foster children and elderly individuals under specific welfare provisions.

Can Non-Japanese Family Members be Registered as Dependents?

Yes, non-Japanese family members can be registered as dependents. This includes foreigners working in Japan with families abroad, Japanese residents with family members overseas, and those supporting children studying abroad. These individuals can claim a “dependent deduction for foreign relatives”, offering substantial tax relief. 

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Living Arrangements and Dependency

An interesting aspect of Japan’s tax law is that living together isn’t a prerequisite for a dependent deduction. A relative who doesn’t cohabit due to work, study, or medical reasons but still relies on you financially can be considered a dependent. This includes instances where you provide living costs, tuition, or medical expenses. Even relatives living outside Japan can be dependents, as long as they meet the criteria.

Age Restrictions for Dependent Registration

There are age-related specifics to consider. Only relatives aged 16 years or older qualify as “Deductible Dependent Relatives” in Japan. Hence, relatives under the age of 16 are not eligible for the deduction. This aligns with the provision of child allowances for younger children.

How To Claim Dependent Deductions On Your Japanese Taxes

Claiming a dependent in Japan requires specific documentation, especially for non-resident relatives. The necessary documents vary based on the age and circumstances of the dependent. These may include:

  • How To Claim Dependents On Your Japanese Taxes
  • Documents Proving the Relationship: You’ll need to provide documentation that establishes the familial relationship, such as family registers, birth certificates, or marriage certificates.
  • Financial Support Evidence: For dependents aged 30-69, documentation showing remittances of at least JPY 380,000 for living or educational expenses is required.
  • Additional Documents for Specific Cases: For studying abroad, visa documents are necessary, and for disabled dependents, you need to provide relevant proof.

Dependent status in Japan is not automatically renewed each year. You are required to apply annually for the exemption for dependents. This means that every tax year, you need to reassess and reapply for your family member’s dependent status, ensuring that all information and documentation are up to date. This process is part of the yearly tax filing routine, so it’s essential to keep track of these deadlines.

Retroactive Application for Dependent Deductions in Japan

Unfortunately, Japanese tax law does not typically allow for retroactive application for dependent status. That means if you miss the application period, you’ll miss out on the benefits for that year. Therefore, timely filing is key to ensuring you receive all applicable deductions.

Additional Considerations: The Importance of Consulting a Professional

Navigating the complex terrain of tax laws in Japan, especially as an English-speaking resident, requires more than just a basic understanding of the rules. This is where the expertise of experienced international financial advisers comes into play. Tax laws are intricate and often subject to changes and interpretations. An adviser who is well-versed in both Japanese tax law and the unique challenges faced by foreign residents can provide invaluable guidance in tax planning. They can assist in identifying all possible deductions, ensuring compliance, and avoiding costly mistakes such as unintentional tax evasion. Moreover, their insights help you make sure that you are optimizing your tax returns and enhancing your overall financial health.

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Sources and Further Reading

- Remittance data: Remittances and migration unit data are provided by the World Bank Group. The estimates of total migrant population were obtained from the World Bank’s Bilateral-Remittance matrix. The estimates in this data set are compiled from various primary and secondary sources for international migrant population and remittance outflows, and may in some cases fail to capture the complete volumes of remittances.

- Ratha, Dilip; Shaw, William. 2007. South-South Migration and Remittances. World Bank Working Paper No. 102. Washington, DC: World Bank. ©

- Japan National Tax Agency

- Guide to Living in Japan - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2016