Average tax rates in Israel are lower than the comparative rates in the developed countries and in European Union countries for income levels that cover the vast majority of workers in Israel, but at the same time the local tax system does not allow the majority of working parents to enjoy their tax benefits.
"As a result of the continuous process since 2003 to reduce tax rates on labor income, which is expected to proceed until 2010, average tax rates in Israel at the income levels in which the vast majority of the labor force is concentrated are lower than in most OECD countries," according to a research paper prepared by the Bank of Israel. "While at the same time in developed countries average tax rates on wages have risen."
The Bank of Israel survey comparing international tax rates on wages, conducted by Dr. Adi Brender, showed that average tax rates at low income levels were lower than in almost all the 26 OECD countries. Furthermore, the report found that the average tax rate in Israel was lower than in the EU countries at every income level.
Comparing income of NIS 10,000 a month in Israel, a level which exceeds that of 80 percent of all workers in the country, the average tax rate in Israel was lower than in 17 of the 26 countries in the comparison with regard to fathers of two children, and lower than in almost every other country in the study except for Japan, Portugal and Korea when comparing unmarried workers.
At the same time, marginal tax rates in Israel were still significantly higher than the average in the developed countries for incomes above NIS 10,000 a month, though also at these income levels, one-third of the countries had higher tax rates than in Israel.
The average tax paid by workers on medium income levels in Israel of between NIS 6,500 and NIS 15,000 a month, which covers a third of all workers, has not fallen over the past three years, despite the reduction in statutory tax rates.
"This is due to the rise in wages in the economy, which has pushed workers into higher tax brackets. The average tax paid by married workers with a non-working partner, on these income levels, has even risen due to the cancellation of the tax credit for partners," the report stated.
For income levels of between NIS 10,000 and NIS 30,000 a month, which represents about 18% of the work force in Israel, the average tax rate was similar to the median of those other countries. In contrast, for the 2% of workers in the highest income bracket, the tax rate in Israel was higher than in two-thirds of the countries surveyed.
However, the Israeli tax system characterized by high tax threshold is structured in a way that makes it difficult for working parents to enjoy their tax benefits.
"Tax benefits for parents, which are most significant at low income levels, are granted in Israel only via tax credits to the mother, unlike the practice in developed countries," the report noted. "As a result, 75% of families with children in Israel do not fully utilize their tax benefits, and two-thirds do not utilize even part of their entitlements. In contrast in the developed countries a large percentage of working parents enjoy substantial tax benefits."
Economists at the Research Department explained that as only 60% of women in Israel were working and of them only 56% reached the tax threshold, these benefits were enjoyed only by one- third of families with children. In addition, in only 70% of the families enjoying tax benefits mothers reached income levels that allowed them to fully utilize their entitlements.