National

Western Japan city to sue ministry after being excluded from hometown tax donation system

JIJI

The city of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, will file a lawsuit against the internal affairs ministry in a bid to reverse a decision to remove the city from the revised furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system, Mayor Hiroyasu Chiyomatsu said Friday.

“The ministry’s decision to exclude us as a lesson to others should not be tolerated in a nation ruled by law,” Chiyomatsu told a news conference.

The city will file suit with the Osaka District Court by Nov. 6.

In September, a third-party dispute settlement panel recommended to the ministry that it should review its decision to exclude Izumisano from the new donation system. The ministry made the decision on the basis of how Izumisano collected donations under the old system, but the panel said that the ministry’s exclusion decision may overstep the confines of the law.

The ministry said on Oct. 3 that it had concluded it would maintain its decision, claiming that the reason for its decision should be accepted.

The ministry disqualified the city from the revamped system after it collected massive donations by offering lavish return gifts such as Amazon.com gift certificates to donors, before the new system was introduced in June this year.

Under the new system, the ministry calls for limiting return gifts to donors to local specialties worth up to 30 percent of the value of each donation.

At Friday’s news conference, Chiyomatsu said that the ministry had failed to provide a logical response to the panel’s recommendation, claiming that “the ministry effectively ignored it.”

He said that the city government will continue making its claim until its legitimacy is verified, suggesting that it would challenge any high court ruling it disagrees with and appeal to the Supreme Court.

The major also said his city wants to return to the donation system after winning the case.

Referring to the city’s plan to file a lawsuit, internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi said in a statement that the ministry will make appropriate responses.

The furusato nōzei system allows people to make donations to the local governments of their choice, offering tax cuts in return.

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