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Japanese city introduces country's 1st app-based 'hometown tax' donation system

This image provided by Shift Plus Corp. shows the "IAM" app on a pair of smartphones. The app lets people complete "hometown tax" donation procedures online.

MIYAKONOJO, Miyazaki -- The government of this southwestern Japan city on Aug. 12 introduced the country's first online "hometown tax" donation system not requiring any paperwork.

    The hometown tax program allows taxpayers to make donations to any municipality in Japan in exchange for tax breaks and thank-you gifts. In Miyakonojo's new system, people can go through the entire donation process on a smartphone. The city is aiming to collect more donations by making the donation procedure more convenient and streamline related administrative work.

    Miyakonojo collected about 14.6 billion yen (approx. $109.5 million) in hometown tax donations in fiscal 2021 -- the second highest amount among all Japan's municipalities. While roughly 300,000 of some 700,000 applications filed with Miyakonojo were made using the existing "one-stop special system," which does not require filing a tax return, people still needed to send in documents including a photocopy of their "My Number" personal ID card to the municipal government they donated to.

    The Miyakonojo city government and Osaka-based Shift Plus Corp., which is contracted to do hometown tax administrative work, have jointly developed the "IAM" app. Taxpayers can complete the donation procedure by scanning their My Number ID in the smartphone app and entering a passcode.

    Putting the entire process online has meant a significantly reduced administrative workload for the local body, including checking the enormous number of documents sent from donors. The Miyakonojo government said that it expects to reduce costs and boost donations.

    (Japanese original by Shunsuke Ichimiya, Miyazaki Bureau)

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