A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The value-added-tax office in the Tax Authority last week conducted surprise checks of the finances of 250 private physicians to determine whether they were reporting their income and paying their taxes on it to the authorities.
According to preliminary results, more than a third of the doctors hid their incomes and demanded rebates totaling tens of millions of shekels on their private expenses. So far, the Tax Authority has collected NIS 100 million in back taxes. Many of the physicians hiding their income take in private patients and inject them with Botox to minimize their wrinkles.
The campaign involved searches in homes and offices following the collection of intelligence by Israel Police, Tax Authority and Health Ministry personnel.
In many cases, the doctors reported to the authority on income much lower than what they actually earned. One woman physician from the north who admitted she had broken the law said she “paid” rent for her private clinic by giving Botox shots to the owner.
A family physician from the Petah Tikva area was found to have purchased Botox and hyaluronic acids that fill in spaces under the skin and make people look younger; she admitted that she earned hundreds of thousands of shekels and had enough material to perform hundreds of treatments. A Jerusalem-area dentist was found to run an esthetic clinic with 10 employees and that he had income from it of NIS 3.3 million. His books were seized and a criminal case was opened against him.
One serious phenomenon found among the cases was the doctors’ deduction of personal expenses as if they were permitted deductions of their businesses, costing the taxpayers millions of shekels, the Tax Authority said on Wednesday. A woman doctor in the center of the country deducted half a milllion shekels in legal expenses for the sale of her Cesarea home; a dentist from the Haifa area regularly deducted as expenses all his private expenditures for food for his family in the supermarket, eating in restaurants and cafes and even his cable TV service; he explained that he was “forced” to break law to pay off the NIS 500,000 expenses for getting a divorce from his wife.
The authorities confiscated 71 personal vehicles of violators who owe money and collected NIS 100 million more in debts.
Botox and hyaluronic acid treatment used to be performed only by plastic surgeons and dermatologists, but as the law does not prevent doctors from performing treatments they were not trained in, dentists, family doctors and others began to do them as well for extra income.