Tax hike may strike consumers unexpectedly March 31

The planned consumption tax increase from 3 percent to 5 percent will be put into effect at different times between midnight March 31 and April 1, and consumers could get a small surprise at the checkout counter.

Especially if they find themselves in a Lawson store near midnight. The convenience store chain will simultaneously adjust its stores’ electronic registers to account for the consumption tax increase at midnight, March 31.

Therefore, shoppers lined up at the stores’ cash registers prior to midnight will still have to pay the higher tax if they’re purchases are rung up after 12 a.m. Other convenience store chains will be making the switch well after midnight at times when customer traffic is low.

Denny’s Japan restaurants will announce shortly before midnight that they will begin attaching the 5 percent consumption tax increase after 12 a.m. But customers will be allowed to pay their bills before 12 at the 3 percent rate, even if they’re still eating or waiting for their orders.

Businesses that close early in the morning will be making the 5 percent increase effective when they open for the April 1 business day. Taxi companies will be switching to the 5 percent consumption tax fare system when their cabs leave depots for the April 1 business day. Thus, those who pick up taxis late March 31 will be paying fares unaffected by the tax increase. However, Japan Highway Corp. will adopt the 5 percent rate at midnight. Thus, toll road users who purchase passes at midnight will have to pay the 5 percent consumption tax.

JR companies will introduce an adjusted fare system effective on the “first trains” for April 1. Therefore passengers on the “last trains” that run after midnight March 31 will be paying fares unaffected by the increase.