City Offers $90 Mil. In Gift Cards To Donors

City offers $90 mil. in gift cards to donors

A city in western Japan is offering 90 million dollars' worth of shopping vouchers to people who donate to the municipal coffers, in defiance of the government's call to scrap the campaign.

Izumisano City in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, launched the campaign as part of a national tax program that allows people to donate to municipalities of their choice in return for a tax reduction and gifts.

City officials say donors will receive Amazon gift cards worth up to 20 percent of their donations along with a present. The campaign will end when the amount of the gift cards reaches 10 billion yen, or about 90 million dollars.

The "hometown donations" program is intended to give people a chance to help the places they grew up in.

But municipalities across Japan have been offering expensive gifts to attract donors, including some items that have no local connection.

This led the Internal Affairs Ministry to issue guidelines to limit the gift prices and to only allow locally produced items. Under a proposed legal revision, donors would not be able to receive the tax reductions from June if municipalities don't follow the guidelines.

Izumisano City calls its campaign, which runs through March, a "going-out-of-business sale" before the law is changed.

The city was the biggest recipient of donations across Japan in the fiscal year that ended last March, and is opposing the ministry's move to tighten regulations.

The ministry says it's regrettable that Izumisano has failed to follow the guidelines and the purpose of the program.

A city official told reporters on Tuesday that Izumisano started its campaign because the legal revision and tighter regulations will affect the companies that have been involved in the program.