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Majority of Japanese Gamblers Fail to Tax Big Winnings, Board of Audit Reveals

Japanese gamblers tend to avoid declaring big winnings, Board of Audit report finds
Around 80% of all gambling winnings of JPY10 million (approximately $88,500) or over from a single bet are not declared to Japanese tax authorities, local news outlet Asahi Shimbun reports citing findings by the country’s Board of Audit.
The independent body has looked into cases of people winning from horse races operated both by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and by other operators. The Board of Audit reviewed cases of JRA-run races where a winning bet of JPY100 has generated winnings of more than JPY10 million for the bettor. In cases of races organized by other operators, the board reviewed winning bets of between JPY50 to JPY200.
It detected 530 winning bets which generated winnings of around JPY12.7 billion. The board also looked into 18,200 different cases in which Japanese citizens declared JPY10 million or over to tax authority as a temporary or miscellaneous income in 2015. Of those filings, only 50 appeared to have been submitted by gamblers who won more than JPY10 million or over from a single bet. The approximate amount of between JPY2 billion and JPY3 billion in gambling winnings was thus declared, while JPY10 billion failed to be taxed.
Commenting on the Board of Audit’s findings, a tax official told the Asahi Shimbun that it is quite difficult to detect how much is earned by gamblers annually as the declaration of winnings to tax authorities is based on “the honor system” and is “voluntary”.
Proposed Measures in the Way Gambling Winnings Are Declared
Ideas have been pitched that gambling operators be required to provide the same type of information to tax authorities as life insurance companies. At present, insurers are obligated to present tax authorities with the names of benefits recipients as well as with the exact amount each of them receives.
It has also emerged that the Board of Audit will request from government ministries and agencies that are concerned with the operation of gambling services by public entities to enhance the system that encourages gamblers to voluntarily declare bigger winnings.
Japan’s Board of Audit is a substantially independent body that is tasked with reviewing expenditures made by the government and reporting on those as well recommending possible improvements in the current system.
Japan is currently in the process of building its casino gambling industry after the government legalized Las Vegas-style gambling activities late in 2016 and passed a second bill on the matter earlier this year. According to media reports, the government has opened a discussion on how casino winnings will be taxed once the nation’s first casinos open doors (sometime in the early- to mid-2020s).
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