Calls are returned, cars are light, clothes are Uniqlo… A former tax specialist reveals the reasons why the wealthy are so stingy. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Calls are returned, cars are light, clothes are Uniqlo… A former tax specialist reveals the reasons why the wealthy are so stingy.

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The real “RICH” are surprisingly stingy.

The richer you are, the stingier you are. We often hear such words, but how stingy are they? Few people know how stingy they really are. We interviewed Mr. Yoshitaka Kobayashi, a former specialist at the National Taxation Bureau who has conducted tax investigations of many wealthy people. What he found out about the “smitten” behavior of the rich, whom we should now admire, can be found at …….

One person who left a lasting impression on me was a woman who inherited several hundred million yen and always hung up the phone saying, “Please call me back.

2.The book, “The Billionaire Next Door,” has sold 60,000 copies and has become one of the most talked-about books. We asked the author, Mr. Kobayashi, a former national tax specialist, “Are rich people really stingy? The first thing that came back to me was the example given at the beginning of the book. The first example that came out of the discussion was the many episodes of frugality among the wealthy. ……

The elderly woman called me about an inheritance tax bill that was in the hundreds of millions. But after a long conversation, she suddenly gave me her phone number and hung up, saying, ‘Please call me back. After the second call, she would pick up the phone and say, ‘Please call me back. I was impressed that wealthy people don’t spend money where they don’t have to.

The front door chime is still broken. ……

Mr. Kobayashi explains the stinginess of the wealthy.

He also says that he was impressed by the stinginess of the wealthy.

When we went to a wealthy person’s home to conduct a tax audit, we found that the front door chime had been left unattended and broken. Of course, they had enough money to repair it. The person said, ‘When you have a visitor, you have an appointment in advance, so all you have to do is answer the door at that time and wait. It would be better to leave it broken so that I could get rid of the door-to-door salesman.

But the investigation that day went on into the afternoon, so we went out to eat lunch. When we came back early, we had trouble getting the front door open because the doorbell didn’t ring. I said, “Excuse me,” but it was a wealthy family’s house. It was a big house, so I couldn’t reach the occupants. In the end, I called the house and finally got them to open the door.

Another memorable experience was with a wealthy man who never hired a tax accountant.

He said, “Inheritance tax returns are complicated and difficult to prepare. That is why it is common to hire a tax accountant, but doing so will cost at least 100,000-200,000 yen. The person said, ‘If I consult with the tax office, it’s free,’ and came to me every time he had a question.

Actually, like this person, there are sometimes people who come to the tax office to ask questions in order to save money on a tax accountant at first. But usually, after a little explanation, they give up, saying, ‘It’s too difficult and impossible ……. However, this person was not discouraged at all and visited us several times for more than half a year until he completed the documents. While inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars in property, ……”

Even without these impressive episodes, the wealthy were generally modest in appearance, and many of them had modest home interiors.

Wealthy people have surprisingly little stuff,” says Kobayashi

When I visit their homes for tax audits, I find that they have very little stuff. I had an image of rich people’s homes as being filled with luxury furniture and paintings, but there is nothing like that in particular. Because there were few things and it was clean and tidy, the documents we were looking for came up quickly and the investigation often went smoothly. According to what I heard from a colleague in another department, the houses of tax delinquents, on the contrary, are overflowing with things, and it is difficult to find documents and other items, making the investigation difficult.

In addition to their houses, the wealthy were generally frugal in appearance. Most of them wore casual wear such as Uniqlo. I learned that you can’t tell whether someone has money or not just by how they look.

However, according to Mr. Kobayashi, there is a reason for this “frugality.

The older and wealthier the people were, the more likely they were to have a light car when they visited their homes,” he said. This is because they don’t want to stand out by wearing or carrying expensive things. Wealthy people are very cautious.

During an inheritance tax investigation, they not only ask to see the contents of all family accounts, but they also ask about the deceased’s hobbies and interests during his/her lifetime. From their hobbies, we can infer how much money they had. If the amount of assets reported is too small in relation to the hobbies, we ask, ‘Is there anything hidden somewhere? If the declared assets are too small compared to the hobbies, the investigators will ask, ‘Where is he hiding it?

Identification is a must

Mr. Kobayashi joined the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau in 2004.

However, many people are suspicious when they are probed that much.

So after we leave, they call the tax office and ask, ‘Is there really an employee named Kobayashi? We usually tell them, ‘When we conduct an investigation, we will always check the identity of the person. We are usually told to ‘always show identification when we investigate,’ but even when we did, they were suspicious. We had to learn that we might have to do this much to protect our money.

In fact, there are many crimes in which people try to commit fraud by deceiving the tax office. This is why tax preparers are told not to give out their business cards in public places. If they give you their business card instead of showing you their ID, it is most likely a fake employee, so be careful.

Why on earth are the wealthy so reluctant to spend their money, even though they have ample assets? In fact, that seems to be the very reason why the wealthy are so reluctant to spend their money.

I consider the wealthy to be those who have assets in the hundreds of millions or more at the time of their death. There are many people who temporarily accumulate more than a billion dollars in assets, but there are very few people who can maintain their assets until they die.

So what is the difference between those who can maintain their assets and those who cannot? From what I have seen in my research over the years, it is the difference in the linkage between income and expenses. Most people tend to increase their expenses as their income increases, but that is who cannot save. For example, if you go to a survey of people who have set aside millions of dollars in a year by trading stocks, it is not uncommon for them to show up wearing fancy suits and luxury watches, etc. But they’ve spent all of their stock gains, and sometimes they don’t have the money to pay taxes.”

In such cases, the department specializing in collection will take over, but in the end, the luxury watches and other items will be collected, he said.

On the other hand, the wealthy do not change their lifestyle even if their income increases. They may convert the money they earn into other forms of assets, such as real estate or stocks, but they simply do not consume it in goods. The main reason for this is that many wealthy people are self-employed and have a strong sense of crisis because their income is unstable. They all want to keep it for emergencies, and they also don’t dare to spend it. Although it is not comparable, I myself have become more thrifty since becoming a freelance writer than when I worked for the IRS.

My income has increased from before, but my sense of urgency that this will not last forever has conversely increased. In short, if you have 300,000 yen, do you think you can spend 300,000 yen, or do you think you can spend it only after deducting all necessary expenses such as taxes, living expenses, and investments? I think that is the biggest difference.

It seems that having money and being able to spend it as much as you want are two different things. Knowing this, I feel as if I can drink a little less, which may be the reaction of those who cannot save.

Yoshitaka Kobayashi

Joined the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau in 2004. He was engaged in inheritance tax investigations, income tax returns, and appeals at tax offices in Tokyo, the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, and the Tokyo Regional Tax Appeals Tribunal. During his tenure at the Bureau, he received an award for distinguished service from the Director of the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau for two consecutive years. In 2005, he left the Regional Taxation Bureau and became a freelance writer. He writes mainly in the money genre. He has written numerous articles for Asahi Shimbun’s website, “Inheritance Conference,” as well as other serialized articles.

Rich people live in mansions, are decked out in luxury brand goods, and drive luxury cars (……). Don’t you have an image of such a luxurious life? However, the “real life” of the wealthy, as seen by a specialist at the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, is surprisingly simple. In this book, the author, an ex-tax official, introduces the commonalities he witnessed among the wealthy (i.e., those who have assets of more than 1 million yen), dividing them into the themes of “family finances,” “asset management,” “lifestyle,” and “family. Through the realities of the wealthy, you can learn not only “habits that will keep you in financial trouble for the rest of your life,” but also know-how useful for tax-saving and inheritance tax measures.

  • Interview, writing, and photography Nanako

    Born in Ehime Prefecture. After working at a broadcasting station, she became a freelance writer. She specializes in interviews with celebrities and analysis of popular events, and is always on the lookout for serial dramas and popular Japanese movies. She is a well-known beautiful writer in the magazine industry.

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