Pension Refund Refund
Here is information on how to get a tax refund on the pension refund for JET Program participants after finishing JET.
My coworker worked in Japan on the JET Program for a year. She just went home, and she's going to apply to get her pension refund. When you work in Japan, a portion of your paycheck is taxed for the country's National Pension. If you're from another country and you go home, you can get a refund of up to three years of pension payments, and many people do this after finishing the JET Program. The system for getting your pension refund is clearly documented. The refund payment itself is income, and like all income, it is taxed accordingly (20%). For teachers, though, this income is tax deductible, so you can get the money back if you jump through hoops.
- JET participant gathers appropriate papers.
- JET participant designates friend in Japan as tax representative.
- JET participant goes home.
- JET participant files for pension refund.
- JET participant gets pension refund.
- JET participant sends paperwork to friend in Japan.
- Friend in Japan files paperwork for tax refund.
- Friend in Japan receives tax refund in Japanese bank account.
- Friend in Japan forwards money to JET participant via international money transfer.
This post describes the role of the friend or coworker in Japan (me) who acts as a tax representative.
Designate tax representative
Before the JET participant leaves the country, a form designating a tax representative should be completed. If someone at your company gets paid to handle these things, ask them to do it. If not, ask a friend. The form shown above (所得税・消費税の納税管理人の届出書) should be printed, filled out and taken to the JET participant's tax office. When in doubt, the JET participant and tax representative should visit the tax office together. Paperwork is available at the office, and workers there will try to answer any questions you may have. Still, Japanese tax document vocabulary is fairly obscure, and it might get confusing.
The box in the upper right third of the page is for information about the JET participant.
- The JET participant's address in Japan. Above this box, circle what kind of address it is. For example, we used the JET participant's apartment address, so we circled 住所地.
- (TEL - - )
- The JET participant's Japanese telephone number. This will soon be useless, since she's leaving the country and discontinuing phone service, but we write it down anyway.
- We wrote the home address above, so we leave this box blank.
- The JET participant's name, as it appears on the Residence Card. In the フリガナ box above, write the name in katakana. Put a stamp on the 印 mark.
- The JET participant's birthday, using the Japanese year system. People born in 1989 and later should circle 平成.
- The JET participant's type of work. She works for a private school, so we write 会社員. If she were a public school JET, we'd write 公務員.
- We left this box blank, and the tax office people didn't complain.
In 1 納税管理人, I write information about me, the tax representative.
- My home address.
- My name, as it appears on my Residence Card. Above that, I write my name in katakana. I stamp the 印 mark.
- My relationship to the JET participant. I wrote 同僚, but 友達 would be fine, too.
- The type of work I do. I work for a private school, so I write 会社員.
- My telephone number.
In 2 法の施行地外における住所又は居所となるべき場所, write the JET participant's address upon returning home. We wrote down her parents' address in romaji.
In 3 納税管理人を定めた理由, write the reason for designating a tax representative. The person at the tax office suggested 脱退一時金申告のため.
In 4 その他参考事項, write when the JET participant is leaving Japan.
- The day the JET participant is planning to leave the country. To be precise, this should be the day the plane takes off from Japan.
- Leave this blank. It is for people who planning to return to Japan.
- Leave this blank. It is for people planning to return to Japan.
- Other. Leave this blank.
The tax office workers check that the form is error-free, make a copy, stamp the two forms, and give you back one. I, the tax representative, need to keep it safe. It is needed when I return to the tax office in a few months.
File for refund on pension refund tax
A few months passed; now it's January and the JET participant got her pension refund. She sent me an official piece of paper showing that the pension payments were refunded. I can do the paperwork for the tax refund for the 20% income tax that was assessed on that refund. Here's what I take to the same tax office that we visited before.
- The form proving I'm the tax representative.
- The piece of paper the JET participant sent me that shows the pension refund occurred.
- Bank account information for an account here in Japan. I'm using the JET participant's account; she left it open and gave me the bank book and stamp before leaving the country just for this purpose. This could instead be my information.
When you get to the tax office, employees many not be familiar with the process, and you'll have to talk to several people before the expert comes along. First I went to the reception desk, explained what I was doing, and the man asked me to fill out this form.
This form is called 受付票兼添付書類台紙. The only information I entered was at the top, as specified by the tax office dude. It's important that the information on various tax forms is identical, so it's a good idea to copy information from the tax representative form. If you write the address differently in different places, or if you skip a middle name, that might lead to a problem, and we don't like problems.
- Circle last year: 平成２８年分.
- The JET participant's address when she lived in Japan.
- 納税者氏名 カナ
- The JET participant's name in katakana.
- 納税者氏名 漢字
- The JET participant's name in romaji (even though it says "kanji").
- The JET participant's phone number when she lived in Japan.
- The JET participant's date of birth.
When I finished, the man sent me to a different room. In the new room, the first guy I talked to didn't know quite what I needed to do. He went off to check, and several minutes later, a woman who was apparently in charge of this kind of thing came from the back room with the paperwork I needed to complete. The forms themselves are regular tax forms, but there is a special abbreviated way of completing them that is used. There's no way you'd guess how to do this on your own, but you don't need to, because they'll tell you. She walked me through the forms, and we got everything done in around ten minutes.
On the above form, 申告書, here's what I wrote.
- My address.
- My name in romaji.
Additionally, I wrote some numbers, and a bunch of zeros, in the boxes on the form. The employee told me what went where.
On the above form, 申告書B, here's what I wrote.
- This box is in the upper-left corner. It is a big box split in two by a dashed line. The JET participant's address when she lived in Japan goes in the top half. My address goes in the bottom half.
- 平成 年１月１日の住所
- My name in romaji. This doesn't match the description at all. Well, the employee told me what to write, so that's what I wrote.
- The JET participant's name in romaji.
- The JET participant's date of birth. I suppose the leading "4" means 平成. The boxes after that are the year, month, and day.
- Bank information for where to send the tax refund. I'm using the JET participant's account, and I copy the relevant details down from her bank book.
There are some other numbers that go in some boxes, the employee told me what to write where, and I did.
We finished the paperwork. I was sent back to the first room, where I dropped off the papers. They stamped them, gave me carbon copies, and I left. Tax refund money takes two or three months to get transferred.
Handle the refund
In February the refund came. The tax office sent me a post card and transferred the money to the JET's bank account here in Japan. I went to an ATM and took all the money out, and bought an Amazon gift certificate for the JET. If you're here on JET for a year, the tax refund refund is around $400, depending on the exchange rate. Somehow, you need to get the money from Japan to the home country, and one way is Amazon. Amazon's exchange rate is comparable to a bank's exchange rate, and there's no transfer fee, so it works. If the refund were much larger, you might not want the money stuck in Amazon. But for us it worked, so we did it.
I can't close the bank account; only the person who opened it can. But there is no problem with an empty account. My friend David once told me that after seven years of inactivity they will close it automatically.
This takes a lot of time, to get it done you need decent understanding of the Japanese tax system, and it's fairly boring. I was happy to learn about the process and to help out a friend, but I'm not keen on repeating the experience.