Osaka: Capsule machines dispense random hometown tax gifts

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Capsule machines that dispense slips indicating gifts offered under the government’s furusato nozei hometown tax system are seen on the first floor of Matsubara City Hall in Osaka Prefecture.

MATSUBARA, Osaka — Capsule machines that pop out plastic-encased slips showing what gift applicants will receive from the city of Matsubara under the government’s furusato nozei hometown tax system have been installed at Matsubara City Hall in Osaka Prefecture.

Under the tax system, if a person donates money to a local government, that person is given a deduction from their residence tax in an amount close to their contribution.

However, the system, originally designed to financially support local governments, is regarded as problematic, partially because competition has exploded over gifts offered in return for donations, running counter to the spirit of the system.

In October, the city of Matsubara installed two capsule machines at its city hall that make it impossible for donation applicants to choose which gifts they will receive for their contributions.

Those who want to utilize the system via the machine first need to fill out a form to receive a coin. They can then insert the coin into the machine and turn the handle to make it dispense a capsule containing a paper slip.

For their donations, either of ¥10,000 or ¥30,000, applicants can receive such gifts as local products, a city tour guided by municipal employees, a lunch ticket for two at a local restaurant or the right to appear in an event.

The machines have already been used at an event outside the city where they proved popular.

“We hope the machines will provide some fun for the public while respecting the original intent of the hometown tax system,” a city official said.