Working women who pay income tax will be able to deduct part of the cost of sending their children to day-care centers, according to a precedent-setting ruling handed down last week by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Magen Altuvia. According to the decision, a self-employed lawyer, Vered Peri, will receive tax deductions equivalent to two-thirds of the cost of the day-care centers to which she sent her children, if the price did not include lunch, or one-half of the cost if it did. Peri had filed tax returns claiming business expenses for care for her daughter, Maya, who is now 13, and her son, Guy, who is now 10, for 1999-2001. She estimated the total expense for both children during those years at more than NIS 115,000. Throughout these years, Guy went to a day crÃ¨che. Until the middle of 2000, Maya also went to a day crÃ¨che. In September of that year she entered first grade, but stayed after class in a private after-school arrangement. The Tax Authority rejected her claim on the grounds that the expense was not a business one but a private one. Furthermore, a decision in Peri's favor would set a precedent for all working women who sent their children to day care. The authority also argued that the government compensated women for the cost of children's care in other ways, such as National Insurance Institute child allowances and income tax credits. Peri argued that had it not been for her need to earn a living, she would have preferred to remain at home with her children. "It is obvious that if not for the fact that I had to work and earn a living, I would prefer to spend my time with my children, at least until they had reached the age where I could send them to kindergarten, and then, too, I would have chosen to send them only for the minimum number of hours that the law requires, and not the long hours that they were forced to spend outside the home," she wrote in her appeal. The Tax Authority argued that Peri "enjoyed" the arrangement. The fact that she sought good educational frameworks for her children and did not send them just anywhere proved that, the authority said. According to Altuvia, the key question was whether Peri sent her children to day care so that they would be properly supervised, in accordance with the demands of the law, or whether she did so to enrich their lives and therefore she obtained "private" enjoyment. He ruled that "indirect enrichment only comes after the main goal, which is supervision, and is secondary to it. A baby or child who is in a day crÃ¨che from 7:30 a.m. until the late afternoon, day after day, is there not because of the benefits it gives him but because his parents would not be able to earn an income if they had to look after him during those hours." The Tax Authority said it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. It estimated that if the ruling were implemented, it would cost the state NIS 2 billion per year.