Tax revenue abuses fell to ¥87 billion in ’16, Board of Audit says

The amount of tax money improperly used by the Japanese government came to ¥87.4 billion in fiscal 2016, falling below ¥100 billion for the first time in 10 years, the Board of Audit said.

The board’s report, released Wednesday, did not include the results of an investigation into the sale of a heavily discounted plot of state land to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen.

There were 423 cases of improper usage detected in the year ended in March, down 32 from the previous year, the report said. Of the total, 333 involved legal violations that added up to a total of ¥13.7 billion.

The report was submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

By entity, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry improperly spent the largest amount of tax revenue, at ¥38.4 billion, followed by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry with ¥15.7 billion, and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry with ¥8 billion.

The health ministry, however, led in number of tax abuse cases at 135.

The biggest case weighed in at ¥26.9 billion and involved a subsidy program run by the land ministry to support municipal road, river and other public works projects.

Among cases linked to the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami that devastated parts of the Tohoku region, the board found that excessive subsidies were provided to companies in damaged areas, and that businesses that were dormant received subsidies via falsified documents.

The results of the Moritomo probe are expected to be released before the end of the year. The investigation was requested by the House of Councilors, the upper chamber of the Diet, in March.

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