Even egregious tax evaders seem to be struggling in these difficult economic conditions.
Regional taxation bureaus uncovered 189 cases of tax evasion in fiscal 2011, officials of the National Tax Agency (NTA) said. But only 117, or 61.9 percent, of the cases were considered serious enough for the bureaus to file criminal complaints with prosecutors.
It was the first time since fiscal 1998 for the percentage of cases leading to criminal complaints to fall under 70 percent.
"Along with the worsening economic conditions, there has been a decrease in large tax evasion cases," an NTA official said.
Overall, the number of tax evasion cases uncovered was 27 fewer than the 216 cases of the previous fiscal year, while the total amount of tax evaded, including penalties, was 19.2 billion yen ($240.4 million), down by about 5.6 billion yen, according to the NTA.
Only three cases in fiscal 2011 involved evaded tax amounts exceeding 500 million yen, half the number of the previous fiscal year.
By sector, the construction industry had the most tax evasion cases with nine, bumping the real estate industry from the top spot that it had held for three straight years.
The commodity and stock trading business as well as the temporary job placement sector industries each had seven tax evasion cases.
Some individuals went to great lengths to hide income from tax authorities.
Investigators at the Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Taxation Bureau looked under the floor of a storehouse at a private home and found 300 million yen in cash and 50 gold bars worth 130 million yen hidden in plastic storage bins.
Investigators at the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau found 60 million yen in cash hidden in a bank safe-deposit box.
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