Dependents, know your limit: ¥1,030,000, to be exact

It is hard enough for foreign residents dealing with such issues as visas and taxes for themselves, but it can definitely get trickier when children grow old enough to start earning their keep.

This week’s question comes from the parent of a teenage son who wants to start work. Since both parents are foreign nationals, he has been attending school in Japan on a dependent visa as a student until now. S writes:

“My son graduated from a Japanese public high school this year. He wants to get paid work in order to save towards either tertiary or vocational studies. How much is he allowed to earn per month or per year before he gets taxed? (He has already obtained ‘permission to engage in a different activity.’)”

Our reader’s son has already taken the necessary step of changing the nature of the activities he is allowed to engage in in Japan. In order to start work, a dependent should go to their local immigration office with their passport and residence card and fill out the form labeled “Permission to engage in an activity other than permitted by the status of residence previously granted.” Although the title sounds fearsome, the procedure is simple, and if there are no problems with the paperwork, permission is usually granted within two weeks.

Foreign residents on a dependent visa may work up to 28 hours a week. As for paying taxes, our reader’s son will be subject to exactly the same laws that govern other young people in Japan. The income threshold for paying tax in this country is ¥1,030,000 per year. It is the “magic number” that part-timer partners of salaried workers try to avoid going over, so as not to have to pay their own health insurance or pension, for example. The same applies to young adults who are working their way through university or still figuring out their career: Even if they are full-time students, if they earn more than this figure, they have to start paying tax and can no longer be considered dependents of the head of the household.

For more information on changing visa status as a dependent in Japan, visit

Kiwi Louise George Kittaka has been based in Japan since she was 20. In the ensuing years she has survived PTA duty for three kids in the Japanese education system and singing live on national TV for the NHK “Nodo Jiman” show, among other things. Your comments and questions:

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