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Kanji Cheat Sheets

Kanji Cheat Sheets
Kanji Cheat Sheet: Filing Taxes in Japan
By GaijinPot Blog May 12, 2020

Filing taxes in Japan can seem like a daunting prospect. However, with a few key terms, you will soon be filing like a professional accountant—no briefcase or perfectly pressed suit required.

We’ve all been there. Smiling in anticipation as we open our first payslip, but when we open the letter, the amount is a lot smaller than we expected. You try to work out why, but it’s full of complicated kanji like しょとくぜい (income tax) and しゃかいけん (social insurance).

Different types of taxes

The answer to your decreased wages is that most of us have deductions beyond income tax like social insurance and resident’s tax (じゅうみんぜい). For the most part, these are simply the expenses that come with living and working in Japan.

Here are some taxes that all of us need to get familiar with.

EnglishKanjiRomaji
National tax国税koku-zei
Local tax地方税chihou-zei
Resident’s tax住民税jyuumin-zei
Income tax所得税sho-toku-zei
Consumption tax消費税sho-hi-zei
Property tax固定資産税kotei-shisan-zei
Automobile tax自動車税jidousha-zei

Filling out tax forms

At the end of the fiscal year, most people will head to their local tax office to file. It can be annoying, but a lot of the deductions from your paycheck are refundable. Take the time to fill out your tax forms properly, and you’ll be surprised by how much money you get back. Most of us will likely get some of our げんせんちょうしゅう (withholding tax) back, for example.

Of course, other taxes simply disappear into that bottomless void of bureaucracy. We’d like to think that ours was used for building a bridge or something.

Look out for these words on your tax forms.

EnglishKanjiRomaji
The tax that is withheld from your salary every month form源泉徴収gensen-chou-shuu
Gross salary支払金額shi-harai-kingaku
Income after employment income deduction給与所得後の金額kyuuyo-shotoku-go no kingaku
Source of income源泉所得税gensen-shotoku-zei
Deduction控除koujyo
Life insurance生命保険料seimei-hoken-ryou
Social insurance premiums社会保険料shakai-hoken-ryou
Earthquake insurance地震保険料jishin-hoken-ryou
Special deduction for housing loans etc.住宅借入金等特別控除jyuutaku-kari’irekin-tou-tokubetsu-koujyo

Watch out for keigo

Filling out tax documents can be especially intimidating as a lot of words that learners are familiar with are changed for the official forms. For example, to refer to the person’s name, instead of the word まえ that most learners are familiar with, めい will sometimes be written on the official forms instead. Similarly, やくしょくめい is used for “job title” instead of the more common 事.ごと

This is a formal way of Japanese known as keigo (けい). It can seem completely different from “regular Japanese” thanks to its use of different verbs, nouns, and even grammar. One good thing about the formal language is that once you master its rules, it is relatively straightforward.

Watch out for these terms on your tax form and other official documents.

EnglishKanjiRomaji
Name氏名shimei
Date of birth受給者生年月日jukyuusya-seinen-gappi
Employer支払者shiharai-sha
Spouse (Important for certain tax statuses)配偶者haiguusha
Dependent扶養fuyou
Dependents under the age of 1616歳未満の扶養親族jyuurokusaimiman no fuyoushinzoku

Hopefully, with these words at your disposal, you can walk into the tax office and dazzle them with your knowledge of the language. At the very least, you’ll get a little more money back than you expected.

Even if you don’t, the tax season is a great way to brush up on your kanji and polite Japanese. You’re going to be using these words every year when tax season comes.

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