Owners of vacant land in disaster-hit areas following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster may see a steep hike in their property taxes from 2022 onwards.
Ordinary, smaller lots of land with existing homes on them receive reduced tax rates. If the house is demolished, the annual property tax rate can be as much as 6 times higher.
For victims of the 2011 disaster, they were eligible to continue to receive the reduced annual tax rate even if their house had to be demolished as a result. This special scheme is scheduled to expire at the end of 2021.
Some residents who still cannot return to rebuild may be faced with a much higher tax bill on land that is essentially worthless.
The town of Namie sits within the 20-kilometer exclusion radio of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The entire town was evacuated a day after the disaster. Residents in some districts have been allowed to return from 2017, but over half were not interested in returning. The town’s population sits at 0. When the evacuation order was issued, home-owners were not liable for property taxes. Once the evacuation order was removed, a special allowance providing a 50% discount on taxes was provided for three years. To date, Namie Town has received approximately 4,000 applications for house demolitions, with around 3,000 of those already demolished.
Sources: The Tokyo Shimbun, July 7, 2019.
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