AN ISRAELI doctor 370.
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Eighteen months after the end of the long doctors’ strike, in which a major
issue was encouraging young physicians to work in the periphery, the Finance
Ministry may turn the clock back by putting a 48-percent tax on state grants to
those who leave the central region.
The Knesset Finance Committee held a
tension-filled session on Tuesday in which chairman Moshe Gafni severely
criticized the Treasury for “going back on its word.”
The United Torah
Judaism MK expressed his displeasure over the fact that senior officials from
the Tax Authority had not appeared at the meeting.
He noted that even if
the grants were not tax exempt, the tax rate for such incentive payments was
never more than 20% or 25%.
Gafni said he would fight for recognition of
the grants as “scholarships,” which are not subject to taxation. A 48% income
tax on the grants, he said, violates the spirit of the agreement between the
Treasury and the Israel Medical Association, which represents
He suggested that the tax be either eliminated or lowered, or
else that the IMA go to the courts and sue the Treasury for violating an
He also asked the committee’s legal adviser, who dealt with
court matters during the strike, to send the protocol of the discussion to
District Court Judge Hila Grestel, who handled a case involving the strike at
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, also from UTJ, said
that “for the first time in Israel, doctors prefer to go to the periphery to
work, and now the state itself destroys the agreement with its own
The state will cause serious harm to public health, and it will be
very difficult to fix it in the future.”
Miri Cohen, an official from the
Tax Authority’s legal department, said the authority had not yet decided whether
to accept the committee’s recommendations about taxation on the grant.