Japan to keep golf tax in place, defying lawmakers ahead of Tokyo Olympics


The government and ruling coalition are considering keeping the tax imposed on golfers intact through planned fiscal 2019 tax system reforms, despite calls for its abolition from some lawmakers and others, according to sources.

Officials are finding it difficult to secure an alternative source of revenue, the sources said.

The standard golf course tax rate for users is ¥800 per player per day. The tax is collected by prefectural governments, with 70 percent of the revenue allocated to municipalities hosting golf courses.

The tax generated ¥45.9 billion in revenue nationwide in fiscal 2016.

With golf being part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, some lawmakers have called for the scrapping of the levy, claiming it should not be collected from sporting activities.

Meanwhile, cities, towns and villages that have golf courses have asked for the tax to be maintained, saying that they are offering a variety of services to golfers, including the use of roads and maintaining anti-disaster measures.

Some senior ruling bloc officials in charge of tax debates are tolerant of the idea of keeping the golf tax intact, citing the lack of an alternative source of revenue. One of them said, “A few hundred yen isn’t a heavy burden for people who play golf.”

Given that voices for the abolition of the tax remain strong, however, the government and the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling camp plan to keep the issue of its possible scrapping on their list of items subject to longer-term debates, informed sources said.