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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003

LIFELINES

A kind word, visa sponsorship and tax refunds


A kind word

I was sitting in the NTT Telephone shop waiting to have a telephone repaired and a bit discouraged.

Trying to direct a non-profit organization these days in Japan is definitely no easy matter.

During hard times like these we get squeezed between more and more people that need help and see a dramatic drop in donations. I must have looked pretty down.

Suddenly the man sitting across the seat from me said: "I know who you are. I saw you on TV. You are doing a good job -- keep helping people."

Wow! What a difference a word of encouragement makes.

See if you can't encourage somebody this week. You will never know what it will mean to them. They may be even like I was -- about to give up.

Getting a visa

"I entered Japan with a Working Holiday Visa in March last year and have been working part-time for a Japanese publishing company since July.

Unfortunately my shacho cannot offer me a work visa even though he wants me to continue working for his company. I want to stay longer in Japan to continue working and gain a full-time position and a work visa so that I can marry my girlfriend.

Can you please offer me some advice?"
-- Pepper in Tokyo

Dear Pepper in Tokyo; There is a Japan Working Holiday Center at 03-3389-0181 that will take care of things for you.

You can usually change your working holiday visa to a working visa with no problem, but you will need a job of some kind. They can help you with the details.

Sponsorship

"We are considering sponsoring our wonderful Filipino housekeeper who went back to the Philippines over Christmas but cannot return to Japan because her previous sponsor has left Tokyo.

Before proceeding, we want to find out any risks associated with being sponsors and what our obligations are as sponsors.

For example, are we suppose to pay taxes, social insurance, medical expenses? Also, what are our liabilities if the person you are sponsoring gets into legal/financial trouble or becomes seriously ill? My husband holds a senior managerial position and has a diplomatic visa."
-- A Worried Potential Sponsor

Dear Worried; The rules regarding sponsoring a housekeeper are quite tough.

First, there is a requirement that you must have children under 13-years-old, then that you must change your visa to a Investor/Business Manager Visa.

If you meet the basic conditions it should not be too difficult, and even if you are currently a manager you will need to change your visa.

Then you will need a contract with the housekeeper, and she will have to apply for a tokutai katsudo, or Special Activities Visa. So it is tough, but if you meet the requirements you can get it done. In your case, with a diplomatic visa, you do not need any additional qualifications. You can get further information by talking to Mr. Nakai at 03-5282-7654 or e-mailing: info@tokyovisa.co.jp.

From our readers

There was a question about claiming a deduction for income tax from a person who worked at home. I hope someone who knows more about this than I do has written, but just in case:

My information may be out of date, but I have been deducting a percentage of my rent, electricity, etc. from my income before income tax is calculated for some years.

Your correspondent should know, however, that the percentage (at least in my case) is not the percentage of work done at home, but the percentage of the house that is devoted to work: that is, the office space as a percentage of total floor space.

The other thing to be careful about is this. There is still, I believe, a standard deduction if you don't itemize expenses. This may be larger than if you do itemize.

And the problem is that you can't decide from year to year, after calculating both ways, which way gives you a better deal.

You have to choose one and stick to it.

I'm not sure what the procedure is to change from itemizing to using the standard deduction.

Anyway, the tax people are very helpful. Just make sure to find if it really pays before you start itemizing.

The refund, if there is one, is sent to your bank account some weeks or months later, so be sure to take the bank account information with you when going to the tax office.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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