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Japan to offer one-stop e-filing for businesses

Unified platform will share information among agencies to ease the burden

Many Japanese companies still use paper documents for government filings.

TOKYO -- The Japanese government aims to slash the hours that companies spend on tax and other filings by more than a fifth through consolidating various government e-filing platforms.

Under the new system, due to be introduced around 2020, such common information as the company name and employee salaries will be shared across government e-filing channels to eliminate the need to input the same data multiple times.

Companies in Japan must file a variety of employee income tax and insurance forms with multiple entities. For instance, income tax information must be submitted to the National Tax Agency, but separate filings with municipalities are required for local taxes.

With social security, pension-related documents must be submitted to the Japan Pension Service. But filing for the national health insurance program must be done with the Japan Health Insurance Association. And unemployment insurance requires yet another filing through yet another separate channel.

At present, most businesses still file paper documents or electronic documents on CD-ROM separately with each entity. Social insurance taxes alone generate 63 million corporate filings a year.

E-filing already exists in Japan but is not used widely. Aside from also having to deal with multiple channels just as with filing on paper, companies need to obtain electronic signatures to file online. The complex application process and 7,900 yen ($72) annual charge have deterred many businesses from switching to e-filing.

The government will now issue an ID and password associated with each company's corporate number that can be used free of charge in place of an e-signature. The shared system will also let corporations apply for a variety of national and local grants, again eliminating the need to input the same information repeatedly.

A blueprint for realizing the one-stop e-filing system will be drawn up by a regulatory reform council by the end of March.

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