US Expat Taxes for Americans Living in Japan

US Expat Taxes for Americans Living in Japan

Living In Japan as a US Expat 

Living as a US expat in Japan offers a unique and exciting opportunity to experience a rich cultural heritage, a high standard of living, and numerous career prospects. However, it is essential to understand the Japanese tax system and how it may impact Americans living abroad. 

Japan has a comprehensive tax system that includes income tax, consumption tax, and other taxes such as property tax and automobile tax. As a US expat, you may be required to pay taxes in both Japan and the United States. However, to avoid double taxation, the US and Japan have signed a tax treaty that provides relief for certain taxes. 

It is important to note that as a US expat in Japan, you may still be required to file a tax return in both Japan and the United States, even if you do not owe any taxes. Failure to file these returns could result in penalties and fines from both countries. 

But what are Japanese taxes like for Americans living abroad? Let’s take a look.

Japan at a Glance

  • Primary Tax Forms: Form A
  • Tax Year: January 1 to December 31
  • Tax Deadline: March 15th
  • Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Population: 126 million
  • Number of US Expats in Australia: Over 50,000
  • Capital City: Tokyo
  • Primary Language: Japanese
  • Tax Treaty: Yes
  • Totalization Agreement: Yes

What Are Japan’s Taxes like for Americans abroad? 

In general, US expats living in Japan are required to file tax returns with both the US and Japanese governments. As a US citizen, you are required to file a US Federal Tax Return every year, regardless of where you live or work. Failure to file your US taxes can result in penalties and fines, even if you do not owe any taxes. 

Additionally, as a resident of Japan, you may also be required to file taxes with the Japanese government. Japan has a comprehensive tax system that includes income tax, consumption tax, property tax, and other taxes. The specific tax obligations you have in Japan will depend on your residency status, income, and other factors. 

Who Has to File Taxes in Japan? 

Generally, all residents and non-residents of Japan whose income meets certain thresholds will be taxed on that income. However, because Japan imposes a withholding tax on employees, expats living in Japan with only Japan-sourced employment income paid in Japanese Yen (JPY) will generally not need to file a return. Most expats will only need to file a tax return if:

  • They receive employment income from a source outside of Japan
  • Their employer doesn’t withhold their taxes during the tax year
  • They have more than one employer
  • They are self-employed
  • They leave Japan before the end of the tax year
  • Their annual income exceeds 20 million JPY
  • Their side income exceeds 200,000 JPY

Expats who do have to file a tax return must self-assess their tax obligations when filing a return, much like in the US.

How Is Tax Residency Determined in Japan? 

To be considered a resident of Japan for tax purposes, US expats must either own a home in Japan or have a temporary residence for at least one year. After living in Japan for five out of the previous ten years, US expats become permanent residents. 

However, for US expats living or working temporarily in Japan who do not meet these residency standards are considered non-residents for tax purposes. This status can have significant tax implications, as non-residents are generally only taxed on their Japanese-sourced income. 

The IRS tax code is 7,000 pages. Want the cliff notes version for expats? Let us help.

What Types of Taxation Does Japan Have? 

Japan Resident Income Tax Rates 

In Japan, residents are taxed on their worldwide income. However, Japan has tax treaties with many countries, including the US, so it’s rare that a US expat in Japan would be subject to double taxation.

Residents of Japan are taxed at progressive rates, shown below. (All amounts are given in JPY.)

Income Tax Rates in Japan for Residents:

IncomeTax Rate
1,950,00-3,300,00097,500 plus 10% on excess over 1,950,000
3,300,000-6,950,000232,500 plus 20% on excess over 3,300,000
6,950,000–9,000,000962,500 plus 23% on excess over 6,950,000
9,000,000–18,000,0004,404,000 plus 40% on excess over 18,000,000
40,000,000+13,204,000 plus 45% on excess over 40,000,000

Unlike residents, non-residents are taxed only on their Japan-sourced income at a flat rate of 20.42% of their gross income. No deductions are available for this tax.

All self-employment income must be self-reported. The excess of gross revenue over total deductible business expenses is then subject to taxation.

Capital Gains Tax 

Capital gains are taxed in Australia, but they are considered part of the standard income tax rather than a separate category. As such, capital gains are taxed at the same rates as income. 

Pro Tip

Expats can deduct capital losses to reduce the amount of taxable capital gains.

Consumption Tax

Japan imposes a consumption tax when businesses transfer goods, provide services, or import goods into Japan. The standard flat rate is 10%, though some services are taxed 8%, such as:

  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Newspaper

Gift Tax

Japan has a gift tax with progressive rates based on the amount gifted (minus deductions and exclusions). The maximum tax rate for gifts is 55%, applying to gifts over 45 million JPY.

Inheritance Tax

As with the gift tax, inheritances are taxed at progressive rates, with a maximum rate of 55% for inheritances over 600,000,000 JPY.

Property Tax

Real property is taxed at a flat rate of 1.7% of the appraisal value. This tax is imposed at the local level rather than the national.

Social Security 

Japan boasts a comprehensive social security system. Some expats may be required to pay into this, while others will instead contribute to the US Social Security system. This is determined by the US-Japan totalization agreement, which is designed to help expats avoid having to contribute to both systems at once.

  • If a US company assigns you to work in Japan for less than five years, you will typically pay into US Social Security 
  • If the assignment exceeds five years, you will pay into the Japanese social security 
  • If you are working for a non-US employer in Japan, you will always pay into the Japanese social security
  • If you are self-employed, you will pay into the social security system of whichever country you live in for more days during the tax year

Corporate Tax

Domestic corporations in Japan are taxed on their worldwide income, while foreign corporations are only taxed on their Japan-sourced income. (Though, as with individual expats, the US-Japan tax treaty typically protects corporations from double taxation.)

The corporate tax rate in Japan varies widely depending on the details of the company and the amount of income they must report.

Inhabitant Tax

Expats who qualify as residents of Japan are subject to an inhabitant tax, levied at the local level. This tax is a combination of a flat fee of 5,000 JPY + 10% of the resident’s annual income.

Non-residents are generally exempt from the inhabitant tax.

Enterprise Tax

Self-employed residents of Japan are subject to an enterprise tax. Like the inhabitant tax, this is levied by local governments. The rate for the enterprise tax ranges from 3%–5%, depending on the type of business.

Does the US Have a Tax Treaty with Japan? 

Yes. The US has agreed to a formal tax treaty with Japan. This treaty helps US expats living in Japan avoid double taxation (being taxed twice on the same income.)

The US also has a totalization agreement with Japan to define which country’s social security system expats should contribute to.

Confused about when you need to file? We can help.

When you live in the US, tax day is simple: April 15th! When you move abroad, it’s not so straightforward! Learn about all the expat deadlines and extensions you need to know to file.

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • By entering your email, you agree to receive emails from Greenback. You may opt out at any time per our Privacy Policy.
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Tax Forms Do Americans Living in Japan Have to File? 

As an American living in Japan, you may have to file tax forms with both the Japanese and US governments. Let’s take a look at some of the most common for each—as well as their deadlines.

Japanese Tax Forms for Expats 

Form A

Form A is the individual income tax return in Japan, comparable to America’s IRS Form 1040. If you are required to file a Japanese tax return, you will almost certainly use Form A.

You must submit Form A to Japan’s National Tax Agency (NTA) by March 15th. Extensions are rarely allowed. And if you leave Japan before the end of the tax year, you must file Form A before departing, unless you appoint a tax agent to represent you in your absence.

Form B

If you have any income-generating assets, such as real estate, investments, or business operations, you will have to fill out Form B.

Form B should be attached to Form A and filed at the same time.

Report of Foreign Assets

If you qualify as a permanent resident of Japan and own assets in other countries worth more than 50 million JPY, they must file a Report of Foreign Assets. Using this form, you will report the type, quantity, and value of all of your foreign assets.

If you are required to file a Report of Foreign Assets, you must do so by March 15th.

US Tax Forms for Expats in Japan

IRS Form 1040: Individual Income Tax Return 

Form 1040 is the standard US individual income tax return. Every US citizen is required to file this form regardless of where they live in the world. 

Typically, taxpayers must file Form 1040 by April 15th (April 18th, 2023). However, the IRS automatically extends expats’ due date to June 15th, 2023. Taxpayers can also request a further extension to October 16th, 2023. 

IRS Form 8938: Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets (FATCA) 

The US has its own version of the Japanese Report of Foreign Assets: IRS Form 8938, better known as a FATCA report. If you own foreign (non-US) financial assets above certain thresholds, you must file this report. The specific threshold depends on your filing status and whether you are a bona fide resident of a foreign country.

If you are required to file a FATCA report, attach it to your Form 1040 once you’ve completed it and file them together. 

FinCEN Form 114: Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

If you have a total of at least $10,000 in one or multiple foreign (non-US) bank accounts, you have to report it by filing FinCEN Form 114, better known as FBAR.

This form must be filed electronically through the FinCEN BSA E-Filing System. As with Form 1040, the standard due date is April 15th, but if you miss that deadline, there’s an automatic extension until October 15th.

What Tax Deductions Are Available for Expats Living in Japan? 

Because of the US-Japan tax treaty, most Americans living abroad in Japan are exempt from double taxation. However, the IRS also provides several other potential tax credits and deductions for expats, such as:

  • Foreign Earned Income Exclusion 
  • Foreign Tax Credit 
  • Foreign Housing Exclusion (or Deduction) 

Using these tax credits, most expats are able to erase their US taxpaying obligations entirely. (Though you are still required to file a US Federal Tax Return even if you don’t owe anything.)

Thank you for reading our guide on the impact of Japan’s tax policies on US expats. We trust that it has enriched your understanding of this topic. If you’re seeking further information, our team of knowledgeable expat tax experts is always available to assist you.

Contact us, and one of our customer champions will gladly help. If you need very specific advice on your specific tax situation, you can also click below to get a consultation with one of our expat tax experts.

Don’t just guess. Get the best advice from one of our expat expert CPAs and EAs.
Whether you need tax advice to prepare for a move abroad, to buy property or even retire, Greenback can help. Consults upfront can help avoid costly mistakes and stress later.
Book a Consult