This afternoon, I have met with my friend’s accountant as planned, and everything went smoothly. Although my friend had warned me that his accountant was not speaking English very well, I was pleasantly surprised – obviously another case of Japanese understatement.
In our hour-long meeting, it turned out that the accountant has worked at the tax office for 35 years, and this is his second career. By the way, my preparations paid off: I was asked for a few documents (initial tax documents, incorporation papers, etc.), and whatever he asked for, I could produce it without flinching, which impressed him mightily. I had almost stacked them in the order he asked for them… (To my lawyer: Thank you!).
In return, I received a list of 4 pages containing financial terms in Japanese and English, and a 12 page long “Guide to Japanese Taxes and System of Certified Public Tax Accountants”, in English, thankfully. I have taken a glance at the latter, and it seems you can file taxes now electronically, at least the individual ones. And if you are not happy with the decision of the local tax office, there are three layers of appeal, the last one being taking the case to court. Fun fact: One of the taxes on private consumption is called “Golf links tax”, levied by the prefecture. I am glad I am not sporty at all…
As I had feared, the accountant insists on me doing the basic bookkeeping with Japanese software. My friend says the program is very user-friendly, but of course, it’s all in Japanese with about a million Kanji… I have resolved to make a screen shot of every page I will be using, translate all the terms, and then, whenever I have to input something, put the translation right next to me. At least, the accountant will visit me once a month in my office to check what I have done, and with my business volume as low as it is at the moment, I hope I will be able to learn at least those parts of the software that I absolutely must use before things get busy.
All in all the meeting was very pleasant, and I can state that I now have an accountant! He is a very nice person, he obviously knows what he’s doing, and I feel I can trust him, which is the most important thing. For now, his fees are ridiculously low, and I am almost embarrassed about this, but we have agreed that when my business grows, so will his income. I think this is very fair of him, and I am very happy with this arrangement. It’s good that I went with a small, local company that can be so flexible. This is exactly what I needed.