Japan’s 4 municipalities excluded from tax donation program

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced that it would exclude four municipalities from its furusato nozei donation program when the new system is launched in June, as they provided opulent rewards to donors, contrary to the ministry’s guidelines on soliciting donations.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced that it would exclude four municipalities from its furusato nozei donation program when the new system is launched in June, as they provided opulent rewards to donors, contrary to the ministry’s guidelines on soliciting donations.
  The four municipalities are Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture; Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture; Koya, Wakayama Prefecture; and Miyaki, Saga Prefecture.
  All 1,737 other municipalities and 46 prefectures — not including Tokyo, which did not request participation — will be included in the system, and were notified by Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Masatoshi Ishida on Wednesday.
 To reduce excessive competition among municipalities offering luxurious gifts, the new furusato nozei system requires gifts of local specialties sent to donors to be worth 30 percent or less of the value of a donation. The minister designates municipalities that fulfill this requirement.
 However, the four municipalities to be excluded did not comply with the ministry’s requests, even after the deadline last November to review their choices for gifts, and continued providing rewards such as Amazon gift cards. As a result, the municipalities each brought in more than ¥5 billion between last November and March of this year. Those who donate to the four municipalities through the end of September 2020 will not receive tax benefits.
 Of the 1,783 designated local governments, 1,740 can solicit donations under the new system for 16 months through September 2020. The remaining 43 municipalities can only do so for four months through the end of September of this year, as they collected more than ¥200 million in donations between November and March in violation of government guidelines.
 To continue soliciting donations from October onward, the 43 municipalities must submit a request to the ministry in July. The ministry will then decide whether to extend their solicitation periods to September 2020 based on their conduct under the new system.
 The Izumisano city government opposes the decision and is reviewing possible countermeasures. The remaining three municipalities have accepted the ministry’s verdict.

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