Japan Tax Refund

Japan Tax Refund: All You Need To Know

Imagine turning the pages of a complex manga, where the plot twists are your tax refund rules in Japan—complicated yet rewarding when understood. Need more assistance? No worries! We’ve got you covered!

Securing a tax refund is akin to finding hidden treasure in the bustling streets of Tokyo, a financial boon that awaits those willing to navigate the labyrinth of Japanese tax laws. This guide aims to be your trusty map, leading you through the intricate process of claiming your tax refund, ensuring every yen you’re owed finds its way back to you.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Filing A Return For Refund?

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Suppose the taxes withheld from salaries and wages, or the estimated tax prepayment, exceed the income tax computed based on your annual income. In that case, you can file the final tax return and get an income tax refund.

You can get a refund of income tax even if you are not legally required to. Returns for refund is the term used to describe this filing. 

You have five years from January 1 of the following year to file a request for a refund, regardless of the deadline for filing the final tax return forms.

By following the instructions on the National Tax Agency website and entering the amounts and other information, you can automatically calculate tax amounts and prepare return forms for income tax, consumption tax, and the blue return.

The generated data can be printed, sent, or submitted to the Tax Office online (via e-tax). Please be aware that the website only offers instructions in Japanese.

You need an IC card reader/writer, a MyNumber Card compatible smartphone, or an ID and password supplied by the tax office to use electronic filing or e-tax.

What Are Examples For Filings Returns For A Refund

Wage earners may, in theory, apply to file refund returns when:

  • They left their job during the year and paid more withholding tax than was required; they are exempt from the year-end adjustment.
  • They have housing loans for various reasons, such as buying homes subject to restrictions.
  • They renovated their homes in a certain way.
  • They constructed a certified home (new certified homes qualify for certain tax credits, etc.).
  • A theft or damage to their property.
  • They can deduct an expense that has been specifically designated.
  • A large portion of their medical costs were covered.
  • They donated in the designated ways.
  • The loss amount associated with the transfer of listed stocks and shares was subtracted from the dividend income, and other relevant amounts associated with listed stocks and shares were subject to separate taxation.

What Are Examples Of Items Not Qualified For Filing Returns For Refund?

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For the following income, refund requests made through filing the final tax return are not accepted:

  • Interest on savings and deposits is liable to withholding tax at the source.
  • Income from comparable financial instruments, such as mortgage securities, is liable to an at-source withholding tax.
  • Income is liable to withhold tax at the source from gains made on the redemption of specific discount bonds, etc.
  • Income from profits on single-premium endowment insurance, which is liable to withholding tax at source if the insurance term is five years or less or if the term is five years or more and the policy is canceled within five years.

What Are Some Important Rules Regarding Filing Returns For A Refund?

You can still get your income tax refund by asking for a correction to the tax return if you have already filed the return for a refund and the amount you stated for the refund is less than what it should have been for the year.

A correction request may be granted up to five years from the date the refund return was filed.

Send the refund return to the District Director of the Tax Office in charge of the area where your address was at the time of filing.

The Regional Taxation Bureaus’ Phone Consultation Center offers national tax consultation services. Please check out “IF YOU NEED FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT” and give the phone assistance a try.

What Is Japan’s Tax Exemption Program?

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In Japan, almost everything is exempt from taxes, including consumables like food, drink, cosmetics, tobacco, and medications and general goods like shoes, accessories, and home appliances. Only specific circumstances allow for tax exemption

There are some items where the tax rate is lowered.  You can pay the tax-exempt price at the time of purchase.

The tax refund process must be completed at an airport or comparable facility. It is not a replica of the visa page; your real passport is required to complete the process. Cruise ship visitors must present their cruise ship visitor permit.

If you are enrolled in the Trusted Traveler Program, remember to carry your Registered User Card and passport.

A tax refund is available for purchases totaling 5,000 yen or more. Depending on the kind of product, tax refund terms and conditions vary.

Only temporary foreign visitors to Japan are eligible for the program. Only international travelers staying in Japan for over six months are eligible for this program. Japanese nationals who do not reside in the country may be able to seek tax exemption.

Who Can Not Shop Tax-Free In Japan?

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The following can not shop tax-free in Japan:

  • Those who use an automatic gate at the airport do not have an entry stamp on their passport.
  • Those who have been in Japan for more than six months.
  • Those currently working in Japan.
  • Those who do not meet the required purchase amount for exemption.

The only people who can shop tax-free are non-residents, such as foreign visitors.

Foreign nationals who have been in Japan for less than six months and Japanese citizens who have left the nation to live overseas for two years or more are called “non-residents.”

How Does Tax-Free Shopping Work?

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Goods meant for non-residents’ consumption and use only—not for commercial or resale—are exempt from taxes. Additionally, objects must be brought outside of the nation before being used.

When buying general items, like clothing, watches, bags, and appliances for the house, the total amount of products you buy at one store in a single day must be at least 5,000 yen (tax excluded; from this point on, all prices are tax excluded).

Food, cosmetics, and medications are examples of consumables. The total amount spent in a single day at a store must be between 5,000 and 500,000 yen, and the products must be wrapped so they cannot be consumed in Japan.

Furthermore, if your purchases from several establishments add up to 5,000 yen or more, you can be eligible for a tax refund for department stores and shopping centers with a tax-free counter. 

But remember that even if an item meets the minimum purchase amount, it can not qualify for tax exemption, depending on the product category.

Supplies are packaged in a cardboard box or a consumables bag (sealed with a tag to indicate if it has been opened). It is forbidden to open these packages before departing the nation.

Furthermore, generally speaking, the combined purchase price of general goods and consumables is not eligible for tax exemption. Each category’s total—consumables or general items only—must equal 5,000 yen or more to be eligible.

Note that products may be paired with consumables under the same requirements if they are packaged like consumables in a way that prevents them from being used in Japan.

What Is The Tax-Free Shopping Process?

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Depending on the retailer, there are two methods to get a tax refund:

  • When you purchase, show your passport and pay the full amount, including the consumption tax deducted.
  • Visit the designated tax exemption bulk deduction counter and show your passport, purchase receipt, and merchandise to receive a refund. 

Please be aware that additional fees may apply in some circumstances and that this process needs to be finished on the same day as your purchase. Try making a quick stop at the counter before you go shopping. 

You can obtain discount coupons!

Firstly, show your passport at the store. Please show the passport of the purchaser. Copies are not accepted. Verification of your passport number, photo, name, nationality, date of birth, residency status, and date of admission into Japan will be required.

The ‘Duty-Free Record of Purchase’ procedures detailing the purchased goods’ details have been fully eliminated from October 2021, when duty-free sales procedures were digitalized. 

The store creates the purchase record information and forwards it to the National Tax Agency. Additionally, there is no longer a need to sign a “Purchaser Pledge.” Ask the retailer where you purchased to clarify the relevant details instead.

There are two cases regarding product delivery and payment:

  • Receive your product after paying the sales amount (tax excluded).
  • Visit the tax-free bulk counter after making purchases at each retailer to obtain a refund equal to the consumption tax.

The tax exemption will be canceled for all products if the purchase total is less than the minimum required amount for tax exemption because of returns or exchanges, and you will be obliged to pay the full amount, including consumption tax.

Show your passport at the airport. The customs officer will request to see your passport because the purchase record data will be supplied electronically. When leaving Japan, the tax-free articles are usually carried by the person who purchased them.

Lastly, before checking in your luggage, please let the airline employees know if you intend to include duty-free products in your checked baggage. When you check-in, a customs officer will visit the counter to examine your duty-free items.

Obtaining a tax refund is finished once you have cleared customs.


As we draw the curtains on our tax refund tale in Japan, you’re no longer a bystander in a foreign financial narrative but a savvy participant armed with the knowledge to claim what’s rightfully yours.

Embrace these insights, and let them guide you to a successful tax refund claim. Remember, in the vast world of Japanese taxation, understanding is your greatest asset, and with it, the path to reclaiming your earnings becomes a journey well worth embarking on.

Refund Achieved!

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