Israel: Is the Tax Authority Combating Illegal Income or Chareidim?

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charedi1Another recent treasury decision setting goals for 2014-2015 will leave many with a feeling that Mas Hachnasa, Israel’s Tax Authority is getting tougher on undeclared income while others will interpret the move as another anti-chareidi policy of the Yesh Atid/Likud/Bayit Yehudi administration.

The Tax Authority will receive a boost in manpower, funding and legislation to empower the agency to get tougher in tracking illegal ‘under the table’ income. So why will some interpret this as being ‘anti-chareidi’, because an emphasis will be placed in a number of areas, including chareidi schnorrers, fundraisers who travel abroad to raise money for mosdos.

In an interview with The Marker, senior Tax Authority official attorney Moshe Asher explained the goal, of tracking down the illegal income, those who avoid paying tax. Among the examples cited are “the many who travel abroad ten times annually and he is registered with the Tax Authority as an individual earning a minimum wage.” Another example is one who owns a number of apartments, with each generating income, yet the person files as a minimum wage earner to avoid income tax.

“We’re finding people that in light of their potential were required to submit an annual tax return but did not do so. We are analyzing cases using many parameters and have learned of tens of thousands of cases of tax evasion annually” Asher added, explaining an agent will review each and every one of these cases and then the person will be compelled to file a return.

This has many mosdos and their schnorrers concerned, for while many do not bring in the big money, their frequent travels abroad will light red lights with authorities and place them in an untenable situation.

However one opts to view the new initiative, the reality is one that will undoubtedly impact the lives and incomes of schnorrers and mosdos alike.

Tax Authority officials are also working with appropriate government agencies towards setting a ceiling for cash transactions. The government is viewing a future that will include digital and traceable transactions exclusively above a certain yet-to-be-determined sum in the hope of eliminating many off-the-books businesses that deal strictly in cash.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

10 COMMENTS

  1. A religious Jew should be honest and have nothing to hide. Claiming that its anti-charedi to crack down on tax avasion says a whole lot about charedi practices. And what will such people tel the rbsh”o after 120?

  2. 1. They would love to end all income tax evasion. However Israel is a country where a large percentage of the population regards the government as a “them” that is ruling “us”, and therefore feel no moral obligation to pay taxes. Indeed, one aspect of American exceptionalism is that Americans tend to regard the governent as “us”, with the result that most Americans voluntarily comply with tax laws.

    2. It is always easier to fight tax evasion among people whom the government regards as enemies, since when you go after those who run the government you can run into difficulties. Given the zionist policy of persecuting hareidim and trying to force them out of Eretz Yisrael, it is logical that the government will selectively enforce laws against them. Use of tax laws to persecute the enemies of the state is a common practice in many countries (United States included, especially under the current administration).

  3. YWN – Stating that coming legislation will be interpreted by some as “anti-chareidi policy of the Yesh Atid/Likud/Bayit Yehudi administration” is not news reporting, it’s opinion. While I sincerely sympathize with, and am pained by, the economic situation of much of the Torah community of Eretz Yisroel, painting the situation as anti-Chareidi government policy is absurd. I am definitely not a fan of much of this government’s policies, and there are anti-Torah elements within it R”l, may they do teshuva. But when (if this report is accurate, which seems to me to be unfounded lashon hara so I am not mekabel) the response to tax evasion investigation of the frum world is “This has many mosdos and their schnorrers concerned, for while many do not bring in the big money, their frequent travels abroad will light red lights with authorities and place them in an untenable situation,” that is not anti-Torah on the govt’s part, it is a chilul HaShem R”l on our part. The fact that their flights abroad is not because they are wealthy but but because they need to in order to get tzedaka is not an argument, because at the end of the day one would hope that even if they are unduly investigated that they would have nothing to hide.
    [I don’t believe that we should be judging one another, certainly if we are not in the troubling situation of our brother – but at the same time it is absurd to call exposure of tax evasion within the Torah community anti-Torah. Not upholding Choshen Mishpat is anti-Torah]

  4. I’m not sure I understand the implication here. Is the article suggesting the Chareidim cheat on their taxes? Only those who cheat on their taxes should be nervous. The Government is running a deficit and going after tax evaders is a reasonable method to ensure everyone pays their fair share.

  5. akuperma – in which Chumash or Shulchan Aruch does it say that because you view someone as a them you don’t need to follow dinei momenus? Tax evasion is gezeila, it’s a violation of dina d’malchusa and it’s a chilul HaShem. And please, chareidim may feel more comfortable in America than in Israel, but as Israelis they benefit from housing, electricity, water, security, insurance, economy and defense – aside from gross halakhic violations there is a grave moral and ethical flaw in this logic.
    Think about it – if this situation is true, would a well meaning non-observant Israeli not logically, and R”l possibly correctly so, come to associate such repulsive activity with the Torah community. His disdain would not come from a place of anti-Torah, but from a disdain for our actions that are anti-Torah. Sometimes we need to look in the mirror and admit we need to change – yelling “anti-chareidi” or “tzioni/chiloni” at eveything is not going to correct out culture or theirs.

  6. “Indeed, one aspect of American exceptionalism is that Americans tend to regard the governent as “us”—–that is not applicable in all communities. There are frum enclaves that the last thing on the peoples mind is that the AMERICAN Government is us, it is treated and dealt with as enemy #1.

    Many fund raisers that come to America raising well-needed funds are not CHAREDI and will be under the same microscope.

  7. It’s also not only those who travel abroad to raise funds that are being looked at – it’s anyone who travels in and out of the country regularly. There’s someone I know who travels frequently for (profit-making) business and received a letter from the ITA asking for a schedule of his income and its sources. When he checked with an accountant, he was told that the ITA had asked the Interior Ministry for a list of those who enter and leave the country frequently (based on passport records), and was scrutinizing such individuals.

    So no, this is not an “anti-Chareidi” issue, and it has, in fact, been going on for close to two years – well before the current government came to power.

    an Israeli Yid