Business

Rural municipalities getting tough on local tax deadbeats

TSU, Mie Pref. (Kyodo) Faced with serious financial difficulties despite the nation’s brighter economic outlook, rural municipal governments are forming organizations to recover unpaid local taxes and seizing assets when necessary.

Staffed with tax experts, these organizations are dealing with matters such as noncompliance with repeated requests for tax payments, massive amounts of unpaid taxes, and matters involving complicated rights and responsibilities.

The organizations are collecting taxes via legal means, including asset seizures, and returning them to municipal governments.

In Mie Prefecture, 66 cities, towns and villages inaugurated tax-recovery organizations in April, with 17 regular staff who have specialized knowledge about tax surveys and asset seizures.

Former National Tax Administration Agency officials, lawyers and former policemen are among their advisers.

It was modeled on an organization set up by Ibaraki Prefecture in April 2001.

According to Mie authorities, unpaid city, town and village taxes in fiscal 2002 amounted to 28.5 billion yen.

Annually, 330 million yen in taxes are expected to be recovered.

And with an announcement that the organization will carry out severe tax recovery actions entrusted by municipal authorities, it expects an additional recovery of 780 million yen.

The organization mainly deals with people who refuse tax payments due to their dissatisfaction with the administration and those who show no intention of paying taxes on an installment basis, even after visits by municipal officials.

Mie Gov. Akihiko Noro, who supported the collection body’s creation, said, “The organization established by the municipal and prefectural governments can expect a ripple effect with improved tax morals through their tieups to strengthen tax recovery.”

A group of 11 cities, towns and villages in Kochi Prefecture inaugurated a similar organization in mid-April that is in charge of recovering 300 million yen in taxes from 300 people. It aims to recover 25 percent of the amount.

“People in cities, towns and villages are bound together by blood and a shared territorial bond. There could be such an extreme case as ‘the person next door has surveyed our assets.’ Therefore, no drastic tax collection measure has been taken,” an official of the organization said.

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