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Japan tax agency: Coronavirus cuts into tax evasion

TOKYO (TR) – Citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the National Tax Agency on Thursday announced the total value of tax evasion over the past year was the lowest on record, reports TBS News (June 11).

Over a one-year period ending in March, tax officials prosecuted violators in 150 cases in which the total amount evaded was 9.3 billion yen, the lowest figure since records began being kept in 1972.

The National Taxation Agency said that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic caused bureaus to limit activities during March.

“I think the spread of the coronavirus had a considerable impact,” said Hiroki Terada of the National Tax Agency.

(For 2018, the total was 14 billion yen, meaning the 2019 figure was 34 percent less. The agency did not substantiate how one month of reduced activity could be “considerable” given the difference between the years.)

Tax officials found 145 million yen in cash packed in a suitcase stored in a storage locker (Twitter)

The number of cases of persons not declaring income reached a five-year high of 27. Meanwhile, the number of cases involving international transactions reached 25, an increase by five over the year before.

In one case of tax evasion, the Tokyo National Taxation Bureau discovered around 145 million yen concealed inside envelopes packed into a suitcase stored in a rented locker.

In another, the Osaka National Taxation Bureau found about 50 million yen hidden behind a secret door for a dresser inside a residence.

“Depending on the necessity and urgency of the case, we will decide whether or not to conduct an investigation. We also take into consideration the local situation,” said Terada.

The National Tax Agency added that methods of tax evasion have become complex due to advances in technology and the use of international transactions.