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I am a Tunisian citizen studying in Germany. I don't need to pay taxes anywhere, except in the country I will work in probably. I don't plan to live in Japan as for now (maybe PhD next year, but unlikely to happen) so I am leaving Japan this August, back to Germany.

I wanted to ask if some people here have experience with getting tax refund in Japan. I have been working as intern in 2013 for 6 months, paying around 350 dollars income taxes per month. Now again this year the same, 6 months internship and paying 350 dollars per month for taxes. Is it possible for a person in my situation to get some money back?

  • Hey Mehdl, and welcome to Expatriates! Could you clarify your question a bit with an edit? (a) What taxes are you looking to be refunded? (b) Are you leaving the country (permanently, not planning to return)? (c) What country are you from, and are you paying any of the same taxes in that country? Thanks in advance! – jmac Jul 3 '14 at 3:24
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    I added some clarifications. I am paying income taxes. – Mehdi Jul 3 '14 at 3:34
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There are five different types of taxes generally taken from paychecks by employers in Japan:

  1. Income tax (所得税)
  2. Residence tax (住民税)
  3. Pension (厚生年金)
  4. Health Insurance (健康保険)
  5. Unemployment Insurance (雇用保険)

Income tax is covered under Japanese tax laws, and generally is difficult for salaried employees to reduce (barring standard deductions such as having dependent family members or the like), as the employer will file all income tax paperwork for you. If you were considered self-employed (自営業) under Japanese law during the time, you can dramatically reduce your tax rate by filing deductions. Here is the 2013 English guide on tax filing. If Tunisia has a tax treaty with Japan, and you paid income taxes on that income in Tunisia, you may be able to get that portion refunded.

Residence tax is paid as a portion of your income tax and is different depending on the city you live in. Since each city has different rules about how those taxes are handled, the best bet is to either contact the city office and ask directly, or to talk to an accountant who is familiar with the taxes in that city. If you lived in the middle of nowhere, the taxes should be lower (or non-existent), and may be difficult to find an accountant to reduce.

Pension payments for up to three years can be refunded if you file paperwork prior to leaving the country, and again after being out of the country. See the Japanese government website for details. Since you are already abroad, if you have not filed the paperwork from Japan and turned in your foreign registration card (along with your work permit) at the airport on departure, you are not eligible.

Pension payments, along with Health Insurance and Unemployment Insurance may be waived if Tunisia has a totalization agreement with Japan. A totalization agreement prevents you from being double-taxed for services like pension or healthcare, and allows you to apply benefits from one country to the other along with the terms of the agreement. So if you were paying social security (health, unemployment, pension) in Tunisia for the work being done in Japan, you may be eligible for a refund for those payments.

Generally speaking, the largest contributions from a paycheck will be Income Tax and Pension, followed by Health Insurance, Resident Tax, and Unemployment Insurance. You can see the breakdown on your pay stub, and look in to the largest payments individually from there.

  • Thanks for the answer but I am not looking for reducing my taxes. My Payslip says "Deductions: Income Tax" that's it. I pay health insurance by myself every month, it only costs 10 dollars. No idea about the other 3 you mentioned. I just want to know if income tax is refundable if somebody leaves the country forever. I don't pay anything to Tunisia. I don't think there is other countries than US who forces their citizens to pay taxes wherever they are. – Mehdi Jul 3 '14 at 4:07
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    Since you said it was only 6 months, I assumed that you weren't a resident for the other 6 months. If you weren't a resident of Japan, you may have paid taxes on the Japanese income in another country depending on your situation. Is there a reason you think that you would get income taxes refunded solely because you no longer live in the country? – jmac Jul 3 '14 at 4:15
  • Working part-time as students in Germany, we don't pay income taxes but a fair amount of money goes into state pension (10%). This is refundable if I leave Germany and do not come back. I thought that maybe doing a student's internship in Japan, there might be something similar. So if I understood you well, income taxes are generally not refundable. – Mehdi Jul 3 '14 at 4:21
  • It is possible that income taxes could be refundable @Mehdi, but I've never heard of it. Were you on some officially sanctioned (perhaps even subsidized) training program? I know that there are many programs to allow foreigners to come learn farming/factory work/nursing, etc. that have different rules, but each will have its own rules depending on the program. Either you need to be more specific (explaining the program and all details involved), or you need to call the person running the internship and ask them if they've done this before. – jmac Jul 3 '14 at 6:05
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This is the policy regarding tax refund for ex trainee foreigners. It is in English and describes the qualifications and calculations in detail.

(https://i.stack.imgur.com/0qAzQ.jpg)

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