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Japanese government weighs higher tax on idle farms

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Staff writer ▼ | November 11, 2015
Hoping to make the nation's farmland more productive, the Japanese government is mulling an 80% property tax increase on fields that have fallen into disuse.
Japan farm
Farming   Mulling an 80% property tax increase
Because the current tax burden is so light, smallholders have little disincentive to keeping fields idle. The government wants to consolidate these plots into farming operations run by entrepreneurial growers.

The agriculture and internal affairs ministries will present their tax hike proposal to ruling coalition lawmakers soon. It will be included in an upcoming plan for fiscal 2016 tax code changes and may take effect in 2017.

Land is now subject to a 1.4% property tax. But the assessed value of farmland is pitifully low, averaging only around 70 yen (56 cents) per sq. meter, about 0.2% of the value of residential land. This is partly because fields are assessed at a 45% discount to market prices.

The agriculture and internal affairs ministries are looking to end this special discount. Under the new policy, an assessed value of 55,000 yen would jump to 100,000 yen. The owner's tax payment would go from 770 yen to 1,400 yen.

Bringing idle farmland under cultivation forms part of an economic growth strategy put forward by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government in June. The ministries initially considered slapping a new levy on unused fields but are now eyeing a property tax increase, which can be accomplished faster.

The increase may be limited to fields that stand a good chance of reuse.