Japan eases rules on tax-free shopping

 

Japan's government, with an aim of pushing spending by foreign tourists in Japan to new records, has made it easier for them to shop tax-free and avoid an 8% general consumption tax.

Starting July 1st, shoppers at tax-free stores will be eligible if their total purchases hit 5,000 yen, or about $45. Previously, the 5,000 yen had to be in either food and alcohol or in non-consumables; now a total of 5,000 overall will be enough.

Last year, foreign visitors spent the equivalent of about $38 billion in Japan, and the government is hoping to push the total to about $72 million by next year. The tax changes are intended to help meet that goal, especially since there's been a dropoff in what has been called "explosive shopping" by Chinese visitors. The average visitor to Japan spent about $1,400 in 2017, down a bit.

In addition to the change in tax rules, the government is encouraging opening of more tax-free stores for visitors; at present there are about 45,000 such shops, with 17,000 outside the three big metropolitan regions of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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