Updated September 21, 2023
Accounting in Japan: Your Guide to Accounting Firms for Foreigners
Whether we like it or not, accounting has an important place in the life of every working individual.
No matter if you own a company or are working as an employee, you’ll need an accountant one way or another. Be it preparing tax returns, managing your earnings, or planning your retirement, an accountant not only comes in clutch, but not having one can very well get you in trouble.
The tax system, for one, is a pretty good reason to work with an accountant. As doing your taxes requires extensive knowledge of the tax system, which can quickly get overwhelming, it’s almost a necessity to let an expert do it for you if you want things to go as smoothly as possible.
This is the case for not just people living in their home country but for the majority of foreigners living in Japan as well — one would argue even more so. If you think that trying to figure out the rules and regulations regarding taxes and personal accounting is impossible, try doing it in a country where you don’t even speak the language: It’s a recipe for disaster!
Luckily, accounting and taxes don’t have to be daunting if you’re a foreigner living in Japan, as there’s a wide selection of English-speaking accounting firms and accountants you can choose from. Today, I’ll feature some of the best ones in this article and explain why a good English-speaking accountant matters.
Let’s dive right in!
In this article: 📝
In this article: 📝
The Importance of Tax Services and The Role of a Tax Accountant in Japan
Before we get on with the best foreigner-friendly accounting companies in Japan, I’d like to briefly talk about the roles of a tax accountant and the importance of receiving tax services from a professional company first.
As we’ve established, accounting is not something you just want to wing. After all, you need to be sure that your bookkeeping and taxes are properly handled so that you can focus solely on your job.
However, that’s not the sole reason why you need a professional tax accountant. Here’s what I mean.
Why Tax Services Are Crucial for Foreigners Working in Japan
As laws and regulations change from country to country — and even between local governments — working with someone who knows the most up-to-date code regarding taxes and accounting is definitely the biggest perk of working with a professional accountant.
Besides the compliance angle, however, there’s another good reason why you need an accountant, and that’s the cost-saving aspect.
While this may initially sound counterintuitive, as most people do their accounting themselves because they want to save money, the reality proves time and time again that this just isn’t a smart move.
For one, even if you know what you need to pay in taxes and how to keep your records properly, there’s no way you can be as efficient as an accountant while doing so. Even if you know the regulations and what you need to do, accountants are experts at what they do. They just know how to work the system well.
Simply put, you’ll be spending more time trying to figure out the things an accountant may already have a thought-out, well-optimized system in place for.
Of course, this is only applicable to the best-case scenario. Most people aren’t as savvy, especially when it comes to things that require math, and they’re simply more prone to making mistakes than an average tax accountant, which may open a whole other can of worms, costing you even more time and money.
So, while it may sound like a good idea to save on your accountant's budget, if you happen to make a mistake, which is well within the realm of possibilities, you’ll simply lose money instead.
In summary, an accountant can help you get the best tax benefits and get you tax reductions you may not have even heard of, but that’s not all there is to tax accountants.
What Can a Tax Accountant Do for You?
You may be convinced to work with a professional tax accountant due to the reasons I mentioned above, but do you know the extent of the duties of a tax accountant in Japan? If you don’t, we’ve got you covered.
First of all, with all the tax types you need to keep track of — as I mentioned in my post on the real cost of living in Tokyo — the main role of a tax accountant or an accounting company is to provide you with a robust tax strategy and provide consultation at every step of the way.
A good accountant doesn’t just provide you with the information you asked for but the information you need. While it’s an accountant’s natural instinct to help you save on certain costs and tax reductions, a good accountant will also advise you to put the money you saved into investment opportunities, such as being an angel investor, helping you grow your finances as well.
What’s more, an accountant is also responsible for informing you of government subsidies you may be eligible for. As new regulations and government initiatives emerge, a professional accountant is more up-to-date than you’ll ever be and can help you get compensated for the losses you incurred or receive tax breaks in return.
Last but not least, getting accounting services from a professional can help you get through the much-dreaded tax audits easily. As your records are kept according to the books and your taxes are paid on time, not only will you have nothing to worry about, but your accountant will also guide you through the process so that you don’t have to think about anything.
Why Choose an English-Speaking Tax Accountant in Japan?
As I said, accounting and taxes can be hard even for locals, and as a foreigner, you need all the help you can get. This is why I personally recommend working with an accountant, preferably an English-speaking one, to make sure you can communicate all the potential issues that may arise properly.
During your stay in Japan, you may get to a point where you can speak and understand Japanese, but an English-speaking accountant can also understand you better and let you know of the financial risks of certain errors you might make without even noticing in plain terms.
If you choose a bilingual accountant, they can explain compliance rules in English, which can be much more preferable, even if you speak Japanese, as you may fall short on technical terms and legal speak.
So, now that you know the what and why, let’s talk about the cost of accounting services in Japan.
How Much Does an Accountant Cost in Japan?
Of course, everything we said falls flat if you’re not clear on how much accounting costs in Japan. We’ll get to concrete suggestions in a bit, but let’s cover some average fees first.
Accounting contracts will greatly depend on the company or the accountant in question, but here are some approximates to give you an idea.
If you don’t want a regular contract and just want to receive consultation on an hourly basis, on average, you can expect to pay around 4,000 JPY for an accounting company and somewhere between 10,000 JPY and 20,000 JPY for private accountants. Kaori Fuchi Tax and Consultation, for instance, charges:
44,000 JPY hourly for tax consulting,
151,800 JPY or more for individual tax returns,
528,000 JPY or more for corporate tax returns,
55,000 JPY monthly or more for bookkeeping,
33,000 JPY monthly or more for payroll services.
If you want to hold an accountant on retainer, keep in mind that you’ll be required to pay an amount for the hours you’ve agreed upon as an upfront deposit, which is due as soon as you sign the contract.
Of course, most accounting firms will also give you the option to get certain services for a fixed price. For one-time things like tax audits, you can also hire a company on a fixed-price basis and keep an accountant on retainer for your regular accounting needs, which is the best of both worlds.
Alternatively, if you want to get accounting services for even more affordable prices, you can use a regular, Japanese speaking tax accountant. Here’s what I mean.
The More Affordable Route: Japanese-Speaking Accountants
While it may seem like the best idea to work with an English-speaking accountant as a foreigner, if budgeting is of utmost importance to you, you may have a better, more affordable option.
Let’s make one thing clear, though. In order for this to work, you need to have Japanese friends or friends who speak Japanese fluently that you’re close with.
Basically, the idea is that if you do have someone who can help you communicate in Japanese, you no longer need to look for an English-speaking accountant which are known to be more expensive than regular accountants that only speak Japanese. If you need an accountant on retainer, you can have your friend with you when you have the initial meeting to set things up, and then you don’t need much communication afterwards so long as there are no hiccups along the way.
This is even easier to do when you’re looking to get accounting services for a specific task, as you don’t need continuous communication, just the initial consultation which your friend can help you with.
Average Fees for Japanese Speaking Tax Accountants
When I say that a Japanese-speaking accountant is the more affordable option, I really mean it. But your fees will depend on the size and type of your business.
Let’s take a look at some possible fees for each situation.
For small side businesses
If you’re still working full-time at a company and running your business on the side, then you’ll need to file an income tax return (確定申告, kakutei shinkoku).
To get an accountant to help you with this, you’ll likely pay 50,000 to 100,000 yen. This will be a once-a-year cost and depends on how much your side business is earning. It can increase if the business is earning a lot of revenue.
For small side businesses, you generally don’t need to pay a monthly retainer to an accountant. You can simply share the required data about your business combined with the tax info from your company (源泉徴収票, gensen choshuhyo) and the accountant will help you prepare your tax return.
For full-time businesses (sole proprietorships)
If your business is your main source of income and you don’t work full-time at a company, then you’re likely earning a bit more revenue and taxes may get more complex.
In this case, you’ll likely choose to pay a monthly retainer to an accountant to help you throughout the year. This comes with a monthly fee.
How much is this monthly fee? According to the fifth Fact-Finding Survey Report on Certified Public Tax Accountants, the monthly advisory fee for an individual (a sole proprietor or freelancer) is 20,000 yen. This means you’ll pay around 240,000 JPY annually if you want to keep an accountant on retainer.
Of course, there’s also a fee for preparing your tax return. According to the same survey, the cost of getting accounting services for tax returns is equal to 4 to 6 month’s worth of advisory fees.
So for a sole proprietorship, the total average cost per year will likely be 320,000 JPY to 360,000 JPY including the monthly advisory fees.
However, it’s up to you whether you want to retain an accountant on a monthly basis like this. If you don’t need to get regular accounting consultation services and just want to get your tax return done, you can forgo the monthly consultations.
In this case, you would only need to pay for the tax filing once a year, which would be around 100,000 JPY to 200,000 JPY annually on average.
If you read Japanese, I recommend checking out this article for more detailed information on prices and what you can expect.
For Japanese corporations (Japanese KK, 株式会社 or GK, 合同会社)
If you create a Japanese corporate entity, your revenue is likely even higher and fees will continue to increase.
Depending on the size of your company, the fees can be radically different so it’s hard to provide guidance on this case. But the basic requirements will be similar. You will almost definitely want to engage an accountant to provide consultation services on a monthly basis.
Unlike a sole proprietorship, companies have a yearly account settlement process called 決算 (kessan) and you will definitely want help from an accountant to complete this.
Corporations also tend to be more complex in general and you may have other needs during the year which can push up costs. Having said that, a typical annual cost for a small business with a few employees could be around 300,000 JPY to 600,000 JPY.
As your business grows and you hire a few more employees, you could see costs of around 500,000 JPY to 800,000 JPY.
And these costs will continue to go up as you scale the business.
Having explained all you need to know about accountants in Japan, let’s now take a look at some of the best English-speaking tax accountants and accounting companies you can choose from.
Best Accounting Companies and Tax Accountants in Japan for Foreigners
As you may know by now, accounting is serious business. There’s simply a lot that can go wrong when your taxes aren’t handled properly, and this is why you need an accountant or accounting firm that speaks your language and can understand you well.
Luckily, Japan is no short of great tax accountants and accounting companies that work with foreigners frequently. Here are some of the best ones you can choose from.
SME Japan/Sugai Accounting
Sugai Accounting has been in the business for a long time — since 1982. The company is among the top companies working with foreign clients, and it serves both individuals and companies.
While the company has been a prominent force in accounting in Japan under the Sugai Accounting name, it expanded its services with the SME Japan title in 2017, which has allowed the company to offer even more services than before.
Among the wide array of services provided by Sugai Accounting are establishing a company, personal and corporate accounting, and bookkeeping.
However, their extended services under the SME Japan title offer a more all-around service portfolio, as they now also offer assistance for renting office spaces for newly established companies, tech support, HR and payroll services, property management, and consultation services for large companies and startups.
The company is located in Chiyoda, Tokyo. You can learn more about the company’s services on the official SME Japan website.
Accounting Intelligence (AI)
With 20 years of experience under its belt, Accounting Intelligence offers accounting services in three languages: English, Japanese, and Chinese.
The company offers various services, such as tax-related correspondence between you and the government, attending to tax auditing, as well as payroll and bookkeeping services. In addition, the company also helps with tax returns and year-end tax adjustments, which are very important, as I explained in year-end tax adjustments in Japan.
Accounting Intelligence is as competent as it gets. The company not only employs tax accountants who are true pros in the Japanese tax system but also accountants who are certified by the relevant authorities in the U.S. — in addition to a public accountant who’s certified in Japan.
Accounting Intelligence is located in Minato, Tokyo. The company’s services are mainly focused on companies, and you can find their pricing plans on the official Accounting Intelligence website.
YASUDA-Accounting is a rather young company, as it was only established in 2016. However, the company has been rather successful despite its lack of decades-long experience as some of its counterparts. YASUDA-Accounting provides accounting services both in Japanese and English and has been working with foreign companies and private individuals rather frequently.
In fact, the company specializes in international taxation, and its focus is on helping foreigners with Japanese tax procedures.
The main services offered by YASUDA-Accounting are financial consultation and tax consultation. However, the company also provides bookkeeping and accounting services, tax compliance consultation, individual income tax return services, support for establishing a company, and tax declaration services related to crypto assets.
The head and the founder of the company, Eisuke Yasuda, has worked in both China and Japan. The company is located in Edogawa, Tokyo.
You can learn more about YASUDA-Accounting on the official company website.
Otani Accounting Office
Established way back in 1983, Otani Accounting Office has been in business for an impressive amount of time. With over 3600 clients from 25 countries, the company specializes in international accounting and has extensive expertise in working with foreign clients in Japan.
Otani Accounting Office offers accounting services for individuals, large companies, small businesses, and foreign investors. It also provides consultation services for tax compliance.
More specifically, the company provides accounting on both personal and corporate levels, in addition to payroll and bookkeeping services. However, what sets Otani Accounting Office apart is the fact that they work with various competent partners in other fields to provide an all-around service.
Otani works with bilingual immigration and registration lawyers, as well as bilingual European tax consultants, to provide legal support to their customers. In fact, they even provide translation services so that all steps of your tax and accounting procedures can be handled in one place.
You can check out all the services offered by Otani on the official website. The company is located in central Tokyo, in the Toshima ward.
Akasaka International Accounting
Akasaka International Accounting is a bilingual accounting firm that has been in business since 2004. The company has a staff of 17, which consists of licensed tax attorneys, certified public accountants, and administrative staff.
Akasaka International Accounting offers services to both individuals and companies. More specifically, they offer tax consultation and tax return filing services to individuals, as well as bookkeeping, cash management, audit correspondence, payroll, and preparation of tax statements to businesses.
In addition to the services above, the company also provides support for tax conversion and consultation for business inheritance with its corporate business consultation department.
For businesses, Akasaka International Accounting offers package deals, as they also provide human resources management services to clients as well. This is an especially convenient offer for small businesses since you can get both accounting and HR services in one place.
With the word “international” in its name, the company, of course, offers services both in English and Japanese, and they have an extensive portfolio of foreign clients.
You can find out more about the company’s long list of services on the official Akasaka International Accounting website. The company is conveniently located in the Minato ward, which is in the heart of Tokyo.
Fuchi Tax and Consulting
If you’re looking for a company that can offer a more personalized approach to accounting, Kaori Fuchi Tax and Consulting might be the one for you. The company has been in business since 2010 and focuses on a smaller clientele, which allows them to provide a much more tailored service.
Kaori Fuchi provides bookkeeping and payroll services to companies and newly established small businesses, but they also offer tax-filing services to individual clients. Among the other services provided by Kaori Fuchi Tax and Consulting are tax consultation, consultation and correspondence regarding tax audit and investigation, and tax return review.
If you want to establish and register a company in Japan as a foreigner, the company can also help you with that, as they handle everything from submitting your application to the tax office to setting up branches for your company.
As you’d expect, Kaori Fuchi Tax and Consulting operates in both Japanese and English, and the company’s primary focus is on foreigners who live in Japan.
You can check out the pricing on the official company website. Kaori Fuchi is located in central Tokyo, in the Shibuya ward.
Kojima Tax & Accounting Office
Kojima Tax & Accounting Office is run by Hiroshi Kojima, a certified tax accountant who mainly provides services to foreign individuals and companies since his graduation in 1993.
Kojima Tax & Accounting offers personal accounting and tax consultancy services in English, Chinese, and Japanese. The company offers accounting-related services like the preparation of financial statements and monthly trial balances for individuals, sole proprietors, and businesses, as well as tax consultancy services, such as preparing tax returns and filings and foreign tax deduction applications.
For those who want to start a business in Japan, Kojima Tax & Accounting Office also provides services for establishing and registering a business, preparation of English financial statements, and notification of local tax authorities.
In addition to these, the company is also competent in inheritance and donations and can provide consultancy for your issues regarding inheritance tax in Japan.
If you have an international company, Kojima Tax & Accounting can also assist you in cross-border taxation, especially for those who are green card holders in the U.S. and need help with IRS-related matters.
You can learn more about the company’s services in detail on the official Kojima Tax & Accounting website. The company is located in the Minato ward of Tokyo.
KAYANO International Tax and Accounting Office
KAYANO International Tax and Accounting Office was founded by Takaaki Kayano, who has brought his years of experience at Ernst & Young over to his own company to provide foreign individual and corporate clients with exceptional accounting and tax consultancy services.
The company is focused solely on foreign clients, and they provide individual tax return filing for corporate income tax, as well as bookkeeping and payroll services.
The company also provides services for establishing and registering new businesses, tax treatment for expats in Japan, annual and quarterly tax reporting packages, and even support for doing business in Japan.
In addition, KAYANO International Tax and Accounting is also competent in assisting foreign nationals who receive stock options, RSUs, and ESPP and can provide tax return consultancy for these individuals as well.
You can check out all services provided by KAYANO International on the official company website. The company is located in central Tokyo, in the Shinagawa ward.
Frequently Asked Questions About English-Speaking Accountants in Japan
If you’ve stuck with me all the way to the end, you now probably have a good understanding of what some of the best accounting firms for foreigners are in Japan and why working with a good accountant matters.
However, for those who want short and to-the-point answers, let’s do a quick round and answer some frequently asked questions on the subject before I close out today’s post.
How Much Does an Accountant Cost in Japan?
Pricing may change drastically depending on the company, but you can expect to pay 4,000 JPY per hour for accounting companies and between 10,000 JPY and 20,000 JPY hourly for private accountants. To be more specific, here are some examples from one of the companies I featured in this article, Kaori Fuchi Tax and Consultation, to give you an idea:
Tax Consulting: 44,000 JPY hourly,
Preparation of corporate tax returns: From 528,000 JPY,
Bookkeeping services: From 55,000 JPY monthly,
Payroll services: From 33,000 JPY monthly,
Individual tax return filings: Starting from 151,000 JPY (prices change depending on the total income).
Alternatively, if you can communicate in Japanese or have a friend who’s fluent, a Japanese speaking accountant can be even more affordable. Here are the average prices according to the fifth Fact-Finding Survey Report on Certified Public Tax Accountants:
Tax return filings for small businesses: From 50,000 JPY to 100,000 JPY (one time fee),
Tax return filings for full-time businesses: 100,000 JPY to 200,000 JPY annually,
Tax consultancy for full-time businesses: 240,000 JPY annually,
Tax consultancy and filing for corporations: 300,000 JPY to 600,000 JPY annually.
What Benefits Can an English-Speaking Tax Accountant Offer in Japan?
Here are some of the most prominent benefits of working with an English-speaking tax accountant in Japan:
Being able to communicate: Your tax accountant is responsible for bridging the gap between you and the Japanese tax system.
Knowing the culture: An English-speaking accountant is also able to understand the Western culture and can offer tailored advice according to your personal needs.
Optimizing and planning tax procedures: An accountant who speaks English and works with foreigners is familiar with the regulations regarding foreigners and can optimize your taxes accordingly.
Compliance and minimizing risks: As compliance is important, you need someone who can explain how you can make your company compliant with tax regulations. An English-speaking consultant can assist you in minimizing risks and ensure the safety of your tax-related decisions by doing so.
Why Should I Hire an English-Speaking Accountant in Tokyo?
Tax procedures can often feel too complicated even in one’s native language, and not all foreigners in Japan speak Japanese. As accounting and tax-related problems can have dire financial consequences, you need an accountant who can explain things to you in a language that you’re more comfortable with.
What Are Some Good Examples of Bilingual Accountants in Tokyo?
Here are some of the best bilingual accounting companies, all located in Tokyo:
SME Japan in Chiyoda-ku,
YASUDA-Accounting in Edogawa-ku,
Accounting Intelligence (AI) in Minato-ku,
Kaori Fuchi Tax and Consulting in Shibuya-ku,
Kojima Tax and Accounting Office in Minato-ku,
KAYANO International Tax and Accounting Office in Shinagawa-ku,
Otani Accounting Office in Toshima-ku, and
Akasaka International Accounting in Minato-ku.
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