Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tax revenues in August jumped 14.3 percent compared to the previous August, despite Operation Protective Edge continuing through most of the month, according to Finance Ministry Data released Sunday.
The Finance Ministry warned, however, that differences in timing for tax collection between last year and this year somewhat inflated the figure, and that it expected overall revenue growth for the year to hit just 4.4%.
Overall, the government collected NIS 21.3 billion in taxes in August, of which NIS 20.9b. came through the Tax Authority (the rest comes from various government fees and fines). The revenue figures from January to August were NIS 3.6b. ahead of forecast expectations, though about 40% of that came from one-time revenue boosts, such as major foreign acquisitions.
The ministry had expected a slight boost in August because businesses were given a one-month extension to pay their July taxes as a result of Operation Protective Edge. That only amounted to NIS 400 million of the total August intake, however.
The news will be welcome to Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is preparing to submit the budget framework for 2015 to the government on Thursday. Lapid has insisted he will not raise taxes, despite the Bank of Israel’s adamance that finding new revenue would be preferable to further budget cuts or significantly increasing the deficit.
In order to pay for Protective Edge, Lapid ordered a 2% across-the-board budget cut for 2014 (for every ministry save defense), which will automatically lower spending for 2015 as well.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich on Sunday again criticized the move, calling it a “great deception.”
“Even if we assume that [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is right (and he’s not) that ‘defense comes before all,’ and if we also assume (what is untrue) that Netanyahu and Lapid were forced to take from welfare, education and health and they didn’t have any other way out – why did they do it through cutting the budget base, and not through a one-time cut to cover the one-time expense of Protective Edge?” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Her labor colleague MK Omer Bar-Lev similarly criticized the cuts, saying the government should have tapped NIS 7b. in reserves set aside in the 2013-2014 budget for funding unexpected military operations.
“It seems that this amount of more than NIS 7b. was either not saved for the purpose of this kind or was fully used before the fighting, without attention being paid to the possibility of a military operation,” he wrote in a letter to Lapid, “or that there is a still a part that has not yet been used.”