Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Slowest Calculations Ever

In previous posts, I've mentioned that city ("ku") taxes and health insurance rates are calculated based on the previous year's income and not on one's current income. That means that becoming unemployed doesn't reduce the amounts of these two expenses until at a year after you stop working. Conversely, you pay nothing the first year but you don't often figure that out when you first arrive in Japan until something happens to change your income.

I stopped working about one year and eight months ago and I didn't receive a bill for city taxes based on my now substantially-reduced income until today. Up until two months ago, I was still being asked to pay based on my old full-time salary. This was growing increasingly frustrating as the combined expense of city tax and insurance was more than half of my monthly part-time salary. I still haven't received any adjusted bill for health insurance though I'm guessing it won't be far behind.

There are several points about this situation which have been immensely annoying to me. One was the fact that it took closer to two years than one to re-calculate my bill based on an income which is about 1/12 what it once was. If I'm only a year behind, why does it take 1.6 years to do this calculation? I actually know part of the answer to that question. It's because taxes are filed in March and it seems the deciding year's wages are calculated from January to December of the previous year. That adds 3 months to the adjustment time right there.

Once the taxes are filed and accounted for, it seems it takes another 3 months for the various departments to get their act together and send out new bills. I guess my city taxes are spent on something other than paying enough people to figure out how much I should pay in city tax and insurance. I'm guessing it's being squandered on putting 3 bicycle cops on every corner so I can never park my bike anywhere except right in front of my apartment building.

The most irritating thing about this is that, past a certain point, I started to ignore these inflated bills because I knew they couldn't be correct for such a long period of time and that once someone somewhere got around to it, I'd be getting more appropriate bills. While it seems no one could spare a moment to adjust my taxes and insurance, there were plenty of staff on the job sending out inflated bills like clockwork every month with accompanying threatening notes with big red lettering and exclamation marks demanding I pay up or they'd contact my company, take possession of my possessions, garnish my wages, or sell my first born (should I have one) into indentured servitude.

The adjusted city tax bill that came today was for only 4,000 yen which is greatly more in line with what I should be paying on a meager part-time income. The last bill which I ignored was for 30,000 yen and there's no mention of it anywhere in the envelope with the new bill so it seems that my conclusion that I was being overcharged and it'd fix itself eventually was right. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that the health insurance will be similarly more wallet-friendly soon.


Roy said...

I don't know the details but it would seem that your "new" company did not properly notify your tax office of the change in your salary. Generally, if you quit your job, you have to go to the ward office and tell them (I think) but if you change jobs the new company needs to notify the ward office of your new income.

Shari said...

I harassed my company about this both when I left and a year later as these bills continued. They told me there was nothing they had to in this regard and that they had no idea what I should do.

The thing is, I work freelance, in part, for the same company but they apparently don't handle freelancers the same way that they handle full-timers. They just overtax the hell out of you and tell you to file a return to get your money back.

The problem is you can't force a Japanese company to do squat if they don't want to do it or are unwilling to even look into the situation. Part of the problem was that I worked under an old system and the company was bought out by a company that worked under a different accounting system and the company which bought us (which was owned by Nova initially so that should clue you in) is the one that I couldn't budge about this.

They simply refused to submit any altered pay status information to the ward office despite multiple requests so it all came down to information on my tax returns.

CMUwriter said...

Shari: They could really take your first born child and sell it, or was that hyperbole?

Shari said...

cmuwriter: I'm sure they would if they could. ;-) But, it was just a joke because the letters really scream at you for not paying and issue a lot of decidedly non-Japanese threats.