# Estate and Succession planning – 1-1-1. How is Inheritance Tax calculated in Japan?

The Japanese Law, tax system and inheritance system shall prevail in this blog.
When proceeding this type of scheme, the case should be dealt with a tax accountant.

I previously promised in this blog about writing the calculation for the inheritance tax in Japan. In Japan, the Inheritance tax is a tax on beneficiaries, each heirs should file the inheritance tax return individually. However, generally speaking, legal heirs ask for this task to the same tax accountant. That’s why it looks as if legal heirs file the Inheritance tax return all together at once.

Firstly, the Inheritance tax in Japan will be incurred as shown below.

STEP 1: Calculation of the taxable gross estate, including the receivable amount of life insurance.

STEP 2: Debt deduction and other fees, such as a funeral ceremony fee.

STEP 3: Basic deduction. This is statutory deduction, and if the taxable gross estate is under this deduction, heirs should not need to declare the inheritance tax return.
30,000,000 Japanese Yen + 6,000,000 Japanese Yen x The number of heirs.

STEP 4: Calculation the total amount of inheritance tax assuming that the heirs divide the deceased person’s estate in a legal portion.

¥100,000,000 – ¥48,000,000 = 52,000,000

Ex.) 1. Taxable estate amount.

 Total estate After Basic Deduction Legal portion Acquired amount on the law basis Spouse ¥ 52,000,000 × 2/4= ¥26,000,000 Child 1 1/4= ¥13, 000,000 Child 2 1/4= ¥13, 000,000
1. Tax calculation

By using the table below, the amount of tax for each legal heir is calculated.

Table for deduction amount

 Acquisition amount of each legal heir (A) Tax Rate (B) Deduction amount (C) ¥10,000,000 and under 10% ¥0 ¥30,000,000  and under 15％ ¥500,000 ¥50,000,000  and under 20％ ¥2,000,000 ¥100,000,000  and under 30％ ¥7,000,000 ¥200,000 ,000 and under 40％ ¥17,000,000 ¥300,000,000  and under 45％ ¥27,000,000 ¥600,000,000  and under 50％ ¥42,000,000 Over ¥600,000,000 55％ ¥72,000,000

 Legally acquired amount (A)×(Ｂ)－(Ｃ) Spouse ¥26,000,000 ×15％－ ¥500,000 = ¥ 3,400,000 Child 1 ¥13, 000,000 ×15％－ ¥500,000 = ¥ 1,450,000 Child 2 ¥13, 000,000 ×15％-－ ¥500,000 = ¥ 1,450,000 Total Inheritance Tax ¥ 6,300,000

STEP 5: Proportional distribution the total amount of inheritance tax by the actual inheritance amount that each heir inherits. The Inheritance tax in Japan is calculated based on the actual received amount. If each legal heir get one-third of the estate, the actual inheritance tax ratio is shown below.

 Total Inheritance tax Actual receivable ratio Spouse ¥ 6,300,000 ×1/3 = ¥ 2,100,000 Child 1 ×1/3 = ¥ 2,100,000 Child 2 ×1/3 = ¥ 2,100,000 There is a Marital Deduction (Until ¥160,000,000) for the legitimate spouse in Japan. There are various types of deduction. Further consultation is needed.

The Japanese tax authority doesn’t recognise the joint account under the Common law because they always put their importance to the actual contribution to a married couple’s estate. Sometimes, this might lead to the mismatch of cross-border taxation.

It is so easy to make mistakes and, if there are any errors, this can cause problems after the death that will go on to create unintentional upset for the family. A good lawyer or tax accountant is likely to save money in the long term because we can deal with things quickly.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-7. Making a will Part 1

1. Historical Background

In Japan, since the Middle Ages, the custom was not only for the firstborn legitimate son to inherit most of his parent’s estate, which was generally the case, but also for the eldest girl or youngest son to succeed to and maintain the family business, such as farm fields or business rights.

In the modern era, when an estate was considered as the sum of a person’s assets, the inheritance process was regarded as one of the division of an estate between a small range of close relatives, such as a person’s spouse and their children or parents. Therefore, the principle is that the sum of a person’s assets is distributed equally to the heirs of a certain rank.

As in France and Germany, the Japanese laws have definite rules on who will receive most of a deceased person’s estate, whether there is a will or none, but there is the freedom of making a will.
In addition, there is a system of legally secured portions for certain legal heirs in order to harmonise the legal inheritance rules and the freedom of making a will.

2. Legal heirs and the inheritance process under the Japanese law

In Japan, a deceased person’s legitimate surviving spouse will always be their heir, but will only be their sole heir if there are no legal heirs in the first, second or third ranks. Legal heirs in the first rank are the children, lineal ascendants (parents, grandparents, etc.) are in the second rank, and the deceased person’s legal siblings are in the third rank. Heirs of the second rank only inherit if there are no heirs of the first rank, those of the third rank only if there are none of the first two ranks.

If there are several people in the same rank, their portion will be divided equally among all those in the same rank. There is no legal distinction between a biological child or an adopted child or by gender, and even if they become married or adopted, they will still be heirs.

If a deceased person’s child dies before them, and if the child has a child (a grandchild for the deceased person), the grandchild is entitled to inherit and will have the same rank as a living child of the deceased person. Furthermore, if the grandchild also dies before the deceased person, and if the grandchild leaves their child (a great-grandchild for the deceased person), the great-grandchild will be one of the deceased person’s heirs. If the deceased child has several children, they share what would have been their parent’s share equally, and the same principle applies to the children of a deceased grandchild.

If there is no child at all, a deceased person’s lineal ascendant (parents, grandparents, etc.) as the second rank becomes the heir. Amongst lineal ascendants, the heirs will be close relatives (parents will be heirs if there are parents and grandparents). If there are biological parents and adoptive parents, both can be heirs as the same rank.

If there is no lineal ascendant, legal siblings become the heirs as the third rank. Legal siblings mean children who have shared at least one parent in common either by blood or adoption. However, if the legal siblings have shared only one parent in common, their share in the inheritance is one half of the share of a sibling who shares both parents. In addition, in this case, if the siblings who are supposed to be the deceased person’s heirs die before the deceased person, only their child (the deceased person’s nephew and niece) can succeed the third rank of heirs, and not the nephew’s or niece’s child.

If it is not clear who is a deceased person’s heir, the family court will conduct a legal procedure. Under this procedure, an executor for the succession who is appointed by a family court, and will search for the deceased person’s heirs under the family court’s supervision, and deal with matters of succession. If no heirs can be found, the deceased person’s estate may be distributed to those who have physically lived together with the deceased person, such as de facto partner or children, or the family court may consider special circumstances respectively. If there is still any remaining estate, it will become national assets.

An estate consists of various assets such as money, land, movables and loan claims, and the methods of division amongst their heirs is called the inheritance division. If the deceased person determines the method of this division by their will or entrusts their assets to a third party, the division will be followed by the method chosen. If there is no such determination, their joint heirs will decide the method. If no agreement amongst heirs is possible, a family court will be involved. The family court carries out the inheritance division in consideration of the type and nature of the estate, rights relating to the assets and any other circumstances.

To Be Continued.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

https://lawhelp4u.com/propertyJapan/

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-6. What happens if someone dies without a will?

In circumstances where someone is living in one country and has assets or property elsewhere in the world and they die without a will, the deceased person’s domicile should first be considered for inheritance purposes. The deceased person might have no permanent residence, but they must have a domicile. Although deciding their domicile would take account of their actions and intentions before their death, proving their domicile ultimately depends on the evidence available at the time. Nationality and residence are not regarded as the only definite evidence but both can have an impact on considering where domicile is. Under the Japanese international inheritance rule, domicile applies to all substantive legal issues related to the inheritance, such as a cause of inheritance, time, place, the heir(s) that are eligible to inherit, inherited property and renunciation.

The information below is about the basic principles of the Japanese international inheritance rule.

1. 　Cause, time and place of death
A death should be registered with a responsible authority.
Whether an official declaration of a person’s disappearance causes inheritance depends on their inheritance law. Under the Japanese principle, when a Japanese court declares a non-Japanese national’s official disappearance, Japanese law has jurisdiction only over their property in Japan.

2. 　The order of succession and right of inheritance
According to Article 36 of the Act on General Rules for Application of Laws in Japan, inheritance shall be governed by the national law of the decedent, which is based on the deceased person’s domicile. The scope of this rule applies related to eligible heirs, their ability to inherit, such as the inheritance rights of a legal entity or unborn child, and an order of succession.

3.　 Inherited property
Regarding the inherited property, the same rule of Article 36 of the Act on General Rules for Application of Laws in Japan applies. However, when the inheritance law applying to a deceased person does not permit the inheritance of goods based on its location law or of a damages claim based on a tort, these rights are not inherited.
For example, even though real property ownership may be inherited under the applicable inheritance law of the deceased person’s home country, if its location law limits land ownership, then land ownership is not inherited.

4.　 Will and testament
Disposal of property by will and choice of law are determined by the inheritance rule.
I will write about will and a choice of law on another occasion.

5. 　Division of property
Matters relating to the division of inherited property, such as the timing, method, and effects of inheritance are covered by the inheritance rule. Under the Common law system, the division of property may be conducted by a court. However, when the jurisdiction is granted to the law of the deceased person’s domicile, and if it allows jurisdiction where the property is located, a court where the property is located will handle it. Therefore, the Japanese family court might have jurisdiction if the deceased person has a residential address in Japan or if the property is located in Japan. Where the Japanese family court has jurisdiction, the procedural matters are governed by law of the forum, which is Japanese law in this case.

6. 　Administration of the inherited property
Under Article 882 of the Japanese civil code, the heir(s) succeed to their inheritance on the death of a person, but under the Common law, the inheritance is first attributed to an estate manager or executor, and managed and finalised by those persons, with the involvement of court. If a deceased person domiciled in England left property in Japan, the law initially applicable is the law in England. As previously stated, under the Common law, an executor is needed, and the executor is appointed according to the procedure provided under the law in England.

However, when an eligible heir applies for his inheritance to a family court in Japan, based on his property in Japan, the family court in Japan may have jurisdiction. Under the Domestic Relations Case Procedure Act in Japan, there is a procedure for appointing an executor for a succession, provided however this applies only when it is obvious that there is no heir for the deceased person. On the other hand, there is no procedure for the appointment of an executor when there is an eligible heir.

If this rule is rigidly applied when it is obvious that there is an heir, it would be impossible to appoint an executor in Japan, and this would not fulfill the objective of the General Rules for Application of Laws. Therefore, it is necessary to interpret the procedure flexibly at a family Court in Japan and apply the appointment procedure to a case which there is an heir, and allow the executor to administer the deceased person’s property in Japan. Importantly, it is necessary to have a family Court understand a case like this, and to explain the international inheritance rule for an individual case.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

How to Buy a property in Japan

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-5. Beware long-term residents

Importantly, even if a non-Japanese national who lives in outside Japan at the time of his death owns his real property in Japan passes away outside Japan, the person receiving the real property in Japan should file the Japanese inheritance tax form, which is dealt with by a Japanese tax accountant.

Moreover, the problem is that long-term residents whose nationality is non-Japanese who have spent longer than 10 years within the past 15 years in Japan before any gift or inheritance or have the residence status set out in Appendix 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (such as a spouse visa or permanent resident) are subject to inheritance tax on their global assets even though his heir or the person receiving is non-Japanese national.

In comparison with the above case, persons who have the residence status set out in Appendix 1 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and who have been living in Japan for less than 10 years in total within the past 15 years before any gift or inheritance are not subject to gift or inheritance tax on their overseas assets.

However, under the inheritance tax rules, if the deceased person is a non-Japanese national and whose address is outside Japan at the time of his death, plus a non-Japanese national who has a domicile outside Japan acquires assets from the deceased through inheritance or bequest, inheritance tax on overseas assets is no longer applicable, regardless of how long those deceased persons and those persons receiving the inheritance or bequest had their address in Japan in the past.

In addition, under the gift tax rules, a person who has not had Japanese nationality within the 15 years before the date of no longer having an address in Japan and whose total period of having an address in Japan exceeds 10 years is not subject to the gift tax on their overseas assets after 2 years have passed since leaving Japan.

As an additional information, from 1st July 2020, the exit tax rule impose for unrealised capital gains on shares at the time of a departure from Japan. The total amount of the target asset value is 100 million Japanese Yen or more. It is introduced from the viewpoint of preventing tax avoidance for cross border moves.

Some long-term foreign residents (10 years or more) in Japan and non-Japanese national whose residence status set out in Appendix 2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (such as a spouse visa or permanent resident) might be considering undertaking some possible planning. The above explanation is extracted for persons who should be extra careful. A precise advice should be necessary for individual cases.

Real property especially has various special rules and discounts for the inheritance tax.
Managing property efficiently and cost-effective is essential in international tax matters.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

How to Buy a property in Japan

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-4. Private international law and Inheritance

The inheritance procedure, involving the family law, the matrimonial assets system, and the property ownership system, varies by country or region, and it is important to know in advance which country’s system is applied. Regarding the taxation system, tax types, taxpayers, asset calculation methods or tax rates, also depend on the country or region.
Thinking of the current economic situation, people who do business in Japan and own assets in Japan may consider how to plan the smooth and efficient succession of assets and the business they own. Estate planning costs, but ignoring preparation may cause more complicated problems in the future.
In order to prevent these from those happening, it is a good idea to have a legal professional to deal with possible solutions concerning the assets to reduce the future risk.

1. Continental Law and Common Law

 Countries that adopt Continental law, such as Japan, Germany and France, etc. Countries that adopt Common law, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, etc. Inheritance The doctrine of universal succession The doctrine of Liquidation Court involvement NO in principle YES in principle

2. Which country’s law applies?
(Private international law: Determining applicable law)

Article 36 of the Act on General Rules for Application of Laws in Japan stipulates that inheritance shall be governed by the national law of the deceased persons, which applies regardless of whether the inherited property is personal property or real property.
This principle comes from the tradition of continental law that regards inheritance as a system of inheriting property or status based on kinship. This has been criticised for ignoring the actual location of property and the needs of interested parties.
In consideration of these points, countries such as France, Belgium and China apply the succession law of where the real property is located; that for personal property is determined by the address of the deceased persons at the time of death. However, in this case, when following this principle, problems might occur when real property is located in multiple places or when it is not easy to determine the address of the deceased persons at the time of death.

3. New EU inheritance law

In 2015, the EU brought into effect a rule (Regulation No. 650/2012) that defines cross-border inheritance. According to this rule, the law applicable to the succession as a whole shall be the law of the State in which the deceased had his habitual residence at the time of death (Article 21 (1)), which applies whether the inherited property is personal property or real property. However, the Article 21(2) states that, if it is clear from all the circumstances of the case that, at the time of death, the deceased persons were manifestly more closely connected with a State other than the State whose law would be applicable under paragraph 1, the law applicable to the succession shall be the law of that other State. Based on this, the persons can choose the applicable law. The choice must apply to the whole of the succession, and not any part of it. It is important to note that the UK, Denmark and Ireland opted out of this rule. Accordingly, additional steps are desirable.

4. Taxation

This regulation only applies to succession to the estates of the deceased persons. It does not apply to revenue, customs or administrative matters. (Article 1(1)). It, therefore, means that the rule does not legislate on the tax position upon death, which is still governed by the laws of individual countries.
In Japan, the scope of duty to pay inheritance tax and gift tax is below.

Advance preparation therefore becomes even more important.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

How to Buy a property in Japan

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-3. How to value the assets

The Japanese Law, tax system and inheritance system shall prevail in this blog.
Based on the above premise, the following rules will help you to understand the scheme in Japan. When proceeding this type of scheme, the case should be dealt with a tax accountant.

How to value the assets – For Inheritance Tax purposes

Importantly, the aim of this scheme is to pass on the property in the most effective way from an individual to a private company. Some of clients that come to seek an advice are not 100% confident about the detail of their property when starting a consultation. I can then assist them to create the list of their property. This problem is caused partly because of the format of the documents that are issued from different organisations.

1. Money in bank accounts
In Japan, many banks still use a bank book (See below), and the bank book records all banking transactions, so it is similar bank statement. In order to reduce paper use, the bank book may replace online banking statement, but it is still familiar to elderly people.
The remaining cash balance shall be valued when considering inheritance tax.

2. Stocks and shares
When stocks are listed on the market, they are valued based on their quotation on the Stock Exchange on which the stock is listed. The taxable time is the date on which the person died or his/her heir receives the gift. It is better to make a list of all the shares, including the name, nominal value and types of shares.

Unlisted private shares are valued as below.
If the person who acquires shares through inheritance or gifts is the person who already has the power to control the company, the net asset value method is used, which is the principle evaluation method.
If the acquiring person is not such a person, the dividend return method is used, which is a special evaluation method.
The valuation of unlisted private shares may be valued by a tax accountant because the evaluation method is crucial.

In this blog, a simple calculation method is stated.
A principle evaluation method (Net asset value method)
(Company assets – Company debt) / Number of issued shares x Number of shares to be inherited
A special evaluation method (Dividend return method)
{“(A) Annual dividend amount per share”/ 10%} × {“(B) Capital amount per share”÷ 50 Japanese yen}

3. Buildings
The value of a building for the inheritance tax calculation is the Fixed Assets Tax Evaluation price.

4. Land
In principle, the land value is the price which is published on the National Tax Agency website below, called Land Tax Assessment Value.
The roadside land price is the price per square meter of the residential land alongside the road in question, and the price is displayed in units of 1,000 Japanese yen.

https://www.rosenka.nta.go.jp/

5. Household and personal goods
The term ‘Household and personal goods’ means things such as furniture, paintings, TV, audio and video equipment, jewellery, cars, boats, antiques and so on.
You do not have to get a professional valuation for ordinary household and personal goods but if you do estimate the value, the open market value at the date of death is used. For this purpose, you may use an estimated figure.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

How to Buy a property in Japan

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-2. Inheritance Tax and Succession scheme

The Japanese Law, tax system and inheritance system shall prevail in this blog.
When proceeding this type of scheme, the case should be dealt with a tax accountant.

In Japan, there are two types of typical private companies: Private share company, the so called KK (Kabushiki Kaisya) and Limited liability company, the so called GK (Godo Kaisha).

The private share company (hereinafter called KK) is the traditional company type, but the Limited liability company (hereinafter called GK) is popular these days because the initial cost of setting it up is cheaper than the one for a KK.

In theory, a characteristic of the GK is that ownership and management are not separated, a GK is chosen where it is less likely a dispute will happen among family and relatives when an inheritance occurs.

A KK is chosen when its divided ownership right and management of the company is a safeguard to emphasising business continuity.

In the case of a GK, in principle, the ownership rights can be realised when the inheritance occurs and the heirs can obtain the refund of the amount of their capital. However, the original owner can make provision in the articles of the company who will take over the ownership right to continue its business activities. In principle, when the original owner dies, the ownership right is withdrawn and his heir(s) can obtain only for the refund of its capital amount which was provided by the original owner.
However, the original owner can state in the articles of the corporation that who takes over the ownership right to continue its business activities.

In addition, in Japan, the GK is not a transparent entity and pass-through tax rules do not apply, therefore, corporation tax will be imposed to the GK.
Corporation tax considerations are important, but if family members become company officers, their legitimate salary can be deducted from company profit, and it effects to reduce their income tax.

Even though the Limited liability company (LLC) is named after a USA entity, its organisational framework varies from country to country. Knowing the system of the country is crucial.

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.

Shihoshoshi Lawyer
(Judicial Scrivener)
Akiko HORI

How to Buy a property in Japan

# Estate and Succession planning – 1-1. Inheritance Tax and Succession scheme

Japanese Law, tax system and inheritance system shall prevail in this blog.
When proceeding this type of scheme, the case should be dealt with a tax accountant.

1. Inheritance Tax System

In Japan, inheritance tax is applied on the amount by which the value of property after certain exemptions acquired by inheritance exceeds the tax-free amount calculated below.
30,000,000 Japanese Yen + 6,000,000 Japanese Yen x The number of heirs.
Thus, the average family in Japan (of a Husband, Wife and 2 children) where the husband/wife owns net property of more than 48,000,000 Japanese Yen will have to pay inheritance tax.
There are many enquires about how inheritance tax measures are dealt with in Japan.

The calculation is complication and I will provide the information as a separate topic. At this time, I would like to explain how Japanese people use a legal entity as a measure to reduce inheritance tax measures.

2. Scheme Overview

Under this scheme, a private company is used in combination with the purchase of a real property investment, and provides an inheritance measure for wealthy people. The basic scheme is as follows.

A private company is set up by the owner and/or their designated heirs-to-be. Its board members are family members, so it is called ‘A family-only company’. This private company uses its capital or borrows money from Bank for these matters.
For example;
1. Investment on new real property
2. Ownership transfer from individually owned real property to the private company**
** The value of the assets in the estate should be assessed before this scheme.

The company profits distributes its profits to the family as dividends while running the property business and, at the time of inheritance, the inheritance tax is calculated based on the company’s share price, which normally less than the value of the physical real property. The gap between the value of the physical real property and the share price will result in an inheritance tax benefit.
By doing the above, it is possible to improve the profitability of assets, advance the time of business succession, and further reduce the tax burden at the time of inheritance.

To be continued..

I hope the information is useful.

I will update every Monday.