Thursday, February 22, 2007

Governmental Issues

English word of the day

An elaborate, complicated procedure

Currently working out the best method for obtaining a driver's license and paying US taxes.

If you are an American living in Japan, and you're one of the eikaiwa teachers, you should be aware of two things:

1. As long as you're making less than $70,000/year, you don't have to file taxes

2. Some English-teaching companies don't allow you to own a car

I'm serious. Due to insurance reasons and stipulations in your contract, you cannot concurrently own a car and work with certain eikaiwa. However, renting a car with your Japanese or international driver's license is still allowed.

If you're planning to stay in Japan for more than a year, you might as well go ahead and apply for a Japanese driver's license. The procedure is longer, requires school, additional fees, tests, etc... but it's the only license that will be legal after a year in Japan.

If you're taking the "one year in Japan" route and have a driver's license back home, you can apply for an International Driver's License relatively easily. Technically you can keep reapplying for this license, but if you are caught by police or government officials (they check the date of entry on your visa and compare it with your license), you could face heavy fines or jail. Nevertheless, the international license is preferable if you have minimal Japanese skills and don't plan to stay.

Japan Driver's License
Gaijinpot Discussion

As far as taxes are concerned, I'm still looking over the finer details for someone with "dual status" - living in America for six months in 2006 and Japan the rest of the year. The bottom line (I think) is... you've lived here for 330 days out of the year and earned less than 70,000, you either don't have to file or you can use the EZ forms. Japanese income taxes are all you're required to pay.

Tax Guide for US Citizens Abroad

1040EZ Form
2555EZ Form
Foreigner Earned Income Exclusion Rules

Gaijinpot Discussion


Anonymous said...

I have recently begun researching paths to teaching at an eikaiwa in japan and studying japanese, as suggested by several sources including your own. I plan on being ready for a bout in Japan withing 3-4 years time, but there is one thing that worries me in this article; the laws and regulations regarding a Comercial Drivers License for vehiclesup to 80,000 GVW in Japan.

Such a license is not something I would like to have just fade to nothing after a year is up. Simply returning to America with the license and its credentials intact is not my only propect either, I would like to see what kind of challenges the roadways of Japan may represent as well if it were possible to somehow transfer such a license or possibly turn it international. Any info would be much appreciated.

-Chris (Chirisu)

Turner said...

As far as I know, Chris, you may just have to cut your losses. The license would only be good in Japan. However, if you don't have a license from your home country, it's entirely possible you could use your Japanese DL as incentive for an international license - these normally have to be applied for and picked up in your home country, of course.