• Kyodo

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The government is considering expanding the small-lot NISA investment program by introducing a longer-term tax break, sources said Thursday.

It hopes to attract more younger savers with the move.

The Financial Services Agency intends to include the creation of such an option under the Nippon Individual Savings Accounts in the tax code reform requests it compiles at the end of this month, the sources said.

Launched in 2014, the NISA program has been a huge success: more than 10 million accounts were opened by the end of March this year. But over half the account holders were people aged 60 and older, highlighting the need to make the program more appealing to young people.

Currently, savers can invest up to ¥1.2 million in stocks and mutual funds annually. They are exempt from tax on capital gains or dividends on the investments for up to five years.

While the program has contributed to broadening the investor base, there have been calls for extending the tax-exempt period to allow long-term investments.

The sources said the government may slash the annual investment limit to ¥600,000, or half the existing cap on NISA-related investments, and instead extend the current five-year moratorium on taxation on investment returns to some 20 years. The government will study what impact the change may have on overall tax revenue, the sources said.

Individuals will be able to choose either the existing type of NISA investment or the new one under consideration.

On Aug. 2, the government adopted an economic stimulus package that calls for improving and promoting the NISA program.

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