National

Nearly 60% back new rule limiting value of gifts offered through hometown tax donation program: survey

JIJI, Kyodo

A survey has found that 58.4 percent of respondents are supportive of a new rule limiting the value of return gifts handed out under Japan’s furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system to local products worth 30 percent or less of the value of donations.

The proportion of respondents opposed to the rule, which will come into force next month, came to 28.2 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted by Jiji Press on 2,000 people aged 18 or over across the country in an interview format. Valid responses were returned by 62.8 percent of those invited to participate.

Under the system, people can make donations to prefectures or municipalities of their choice. Despite the name, the recipient locality does not have to be the donor’s hometown. In return, donors can get tax breaks and, usually, gifts from the recipient local government.

However, some local governments have been handing out expensive gifts and triggering intense competition for donations.

In response, the internal affairs ministry has set up a new framework including the new rule on return gifts. It has also decided to exclude from the donation system four municipalities — Izumisano in Osaka Prefecture, Oyama in Shizuoka Prefecture, Koya in Wakayama Prefecture and Miyaki in Saga Prefecture — because they used excessively generous gifts to attract donors after collecting many donations.

Among supporters of the new rule on the value of gifts, 67.3 percent said that offering expensive gifts in return for donations deviates from the purpose of the furusato nōzei system. More than 40 percent said it is inappropriate for only some local governments to collect massive amounts of donations based on offering expensive gifts.

Among opponents, 39.8 percent said that local governments should be given discretion in their choice of gifts.

Of all respondents, the proportion of those who have and have not used the furusato nōzei system came to 11.9 percent and 87.9 percent, respectively.

In the survey, 9.9 percent said they plan to continue donating through the system after the introduction of the new rule, while 62.8 percent said they will continue not using it.