Tax evasion detected in fiscal 1999 was the lowest since the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s, amounting to 31.61 billion yen, down 7.8 billion yen from the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Tax Administration.

The figure was well below the peak of 71.4 billion yen detected in fiscal 1988, during the bubble era, and almost equals the 31 billion yen of 1981.

In 205 cases of tax evasion uncovered during fiscal 1999, which ended in March, the amount evaded averaged 154 million yen per case, down 15 million yen from the previous year, according to the report based on investigations by regional taxation bureaus nationwide.

The figure is the second lowest in 15 years, following 150 million yen in 1984.

The number of tax evasion cases in fiscal 1999 was 29 fewer than the year before, with criminal complaints filed in 148 cases, or 72.2 percent of the total, up 3.8 percentage points from the previous year.

The total amount of tax evaded in the criminal cases was 28.6 billion yen. Seven of them involved sums of 500 million yen or more, eight fewer than the year before.

Of the criminal cases, 14 involved the money-lending industry, with the amount of tax evaded totaling 3.2 billion yen.

The largest individual case involved 965 million yen in income tax evaded by a Yokohama used-car dealer.

As for corporations, the largest sum, about 700 million yen, was dodged by Hamasho, a Tokyo-based event-equipment leasing company.

The administration said the recession caused a drop in the value of concealed assets such as real estate and a decline in the number of criminal cases involving major tax evasion.

Kubota dodging taxes

OSAKA — Tax authorities found that major machinery maker Kubota Corp. failed to report corporate income of around 610 million yen over the three years up to March 1999, it was learned Wednesday.

According to sources close to the case, tax officials determined that about 420 million yen of this figure had been hidden deliberately. The firm was ordered to pay around 270 million yen in additional taxes.

The sources said Kubota had been padding the costs involved to subcontract plant construction projects for bodies affiliated with municipal governments. Tax officials believe the additional money was pooled and used as rebates to rival firms to gain their cooperation when getting the contracts, according to the sources.

Tax officials have decided that some 150 million yen of such money could be taxed as entertainment expenses, the sources added. In addition, money such as the roughly 90 million yen Kubota paid to local residents as “compensation fees” was also determined to be entertainment outlays, they said.

Last week, the Osaka-based firm was found to have been paying off “sokaiya” corporate racketeers to the tune of roughly 35 million yen a year in the form of billboard advertisement fees. Tax authorities had been allowing the firm to report such outlays as advertisement expenses.

Sources said tax officials would wait to see how the sokaiya case develops before deciding whether additional taxes would be collected from the firm.