Anyway, the purported stupidity of the inheritance laws was a big deal.
The memory of this conversation got me to thinking about inheritance taxes and what effect they might be having on the state's fiscal balances. The number of persons is increasing, surpassing the number of those being born first in 2005 and unstoppably from 2007 on. In between 1984 and 2009, the number of those dying annually has increased by 54%. It seemed to stand to reason that the state's total take from the estates of Japan's deceased must be increasing year-by-year, largely line with the increases in the number of deaths.
Data source: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suikei09/index.html
"Surely," thought I, "though the total take from personal income has been decreasing from lower bonuses, less overtime, greater use of lower-temporary workers and a decreasing workforce -- at least the ever increasing cohort of those running down the curtain in a given year will be doing their share to make up for losses elsewhere. Yes, the fall in the values of most classes of assets post-Bubble and in the Lost Two Decades since will have seriously eroded the inheritance take...but with the increasing number of the deceased, the state should be enjoying at least a mild, if ghastly, increase in revenues from the dearly departed."
Not so. Not by a long shot.
The light blue bars are the total inheritance tax collected by the state, according to the Ministry of Finance. Inheritance revenues peaked in Heisei 5 (1993) at a little under 2.94 trillion yen. They have fallen precipitously and consistently since then. Last year (2009 - Heisei 21 - not on the graph) the state collected 1.52 trillion yen in inheritance taxes. Revenues have thus fallen 48% since 1993 even as the numbers of those "paying into the system" have risen 30%.
So despite their rapidly increasing ranks, not even the dead have been of much help in the Japanese state's search for a way to put its fiscal house in order. At some point the downward trend in inheritance revenues should reverse itself, probably sharply, as the immediate postwar generation begins passing into the Great Beyond, leaving behind their hoards, or whatever may be left of such after the postwar generation's having lived for so very long, for the state to
It ain't happened yet, though.