Death and Taxes


I found out today how one way in which Japanese taxes are different than American taxes.

I quit my job last March and from Feburary through September I had no income (and no savings). As soon as I quit I went to re−register for Japan's National Health Insurance. The way that generally works in Japan is if you are employed your employer gets private insurance for you. If you are unemployed or a student or contractor, (not sure of the rules) you can sign up for the National Health Insurance.

While I'm not a big fan of Japanese medical care, as a student I was happy to find out that national health coverage was only about $20 a month! Cheap. National Health Insurance covers 70% of expenses. The school I was going to also enrolled all students in some extra private coverage that covered the other 30%

So, when I quit my job I assumed coverage again would be $20 a month. Wrong!!!

First I got a bill from the city that said $250 a month!!! Not having a spare $250 a month I assumed I would have go uncovered. $250 a MONTH is pretty outragous. Even my good coverage in the states, much better than just 70%, was only about $150 a month.

But, then a few weeks later I got another bill, this bill was also for $250 a month and it said it was for National Health Insurance. So, confused, I looked at the other form and found out that it was not for Health Ins, it was for Special City Taxes!!! I had just assumed since it was from the city it must be for Health Ins. The city expected me to pay $250 a month in taxes even though I had zero income.

Well, like any irresponsible alien I ignored the taxes hoping I would find a job and deal with it once I had income. I also was hoping they had made a mistake, I mean who taxes people that have no income and no savings? But, I was afraid to go ask them since I am an alien and who knows, maybe they would say "can't pay, get out!!!".

Well, now that I have a job again I went to the city hall to ask about all this stuff. It turns out that health insurance fees are set based on your income the previous year so even though I had no income this year with which to pay for med ins they base your fees on last years income, no excuses. Next year my fees would be low since my income was low this year but now that I have a job my ins will be covered by my new company.

I also asked about the taxes. Similarly, your taxes are based on the previous year. Although you get some of your taxes taken out directly from your paycheck, your income tax, other taxes are paid monthly. Normally those taxes as well would be paid out of your paycheck but they are paid a year late since they are based on your previous year's income. That means for example, again, even though I had no income for those months the city still expected me to pay $250 a month in taxes. Seems pretty stupid. The only plus is, next year I won't have to pay those taxes since this year I had very little income.

Well, there. Now you know, being unemployed in Japan does not mean you don't have to pay taxes. Beware. 😞

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