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Economy

Japan eyes broader uses for 'My Number'

TOKYO -- Japan plans to let residents use new government-issued identification numbers to simplify paying taxes on dividends and capital gains.

     The My Number cards would also serve as a stand-in for the health insurance cards that residents now carry.

     These new features, to be proposed Friday at a meeting of the government's Industrial Competitiveness Council, represent phase three of the numbers' rollout. They are meant to promote the identification initiative, which has raised concerns about safeguarding personal information.

     The numbers themselves will go out starting in October, with the cards to follow next year. Each person will get a 12-digit number for interacting with the central and local governments on taxes, pensions, health care and public assistance, as well as disaster response.

     Legislation already enacted allows use of the numbers for administrative purposes starting in 2017. When applying for child care benefits, for example, residents using their cards will not have to provide other forms of identification. An online portal will let people access their tax and health insurance premium records using their numbers.

     For the second phase, legislation now before the Diet would let residents voluntarily link bank accounts to their ID numbers.

     Now, the government will propose letting individuals report dividend and capital gains income through the My Number portal using electronic statements from their brokerages. This process now entails filling out tax forms and sending them to the local tax bureau.

     Other proposals include using the numbers when applying for passports, registering cars, and making changes to family registries. The cards could even serve as proof of age for buying cigarettes from vending machines.

(Nikkei) 

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