Interior Ministry accused of allowing tax exemptions

The appeal named 47 local authorities that have a history going back many years of collecting a tiny or negligible portion of the taxes they should have collected.

By MIRIAM BULWAR DAVID-HAY (TRANSLATED)
July 27, 2008 12:41
1 minute read.

 
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The Movement for Quality Government in Israel has asked the Supreme Court to order Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit to explain why he has refrained from acting against 47 local authorities that have markedly low property tax collection rates, reports the website www.local.co.il. The organization said the Minister's refusal to act had only strengthened a decades-old "culture of non-collection" among the local authorities, and he should be ordered to explain why he has not exercised his authority against them. According to the report, the Movement - a non-profit organization formed in 1990 that has become an influential force in pushing for change in Israeli government practices - lodged the appeal to the Supreme Court last week in protest against the long-standing existing policy in which local authorities receive national funding irrespective of their tax collection rates. The appeal named 47 local authorities that have a history going back many years of collecting a tiny or negligible portion of the taxes they should have collected, saying that some have collection rates so low that they are effectively zero percent. Among those named as the worst offenders were Or Akiva, Umm-el-Fahm and Jisr-e-Zarka. The appeal said this culture of non-collection has been strengthened by Sheetrit's refusal to act against the offending authorities and his continuing distribution of funds to all local authorities regardless of their individual collection rates. The appeal also said that some local authority heads were reluctant to collect taxes from potential voters, but the Minister had to act to ensure that proper administration standards were kept and that vital services, such as education, health, welfare and infrastructure, were not harmed. It suggested that one solution might be to disband local authorities that could not or would not collect sufficient taxes. No date was reported for any hearing of the case. The report said that although a response had been requested from Minister Sheetrit, none had been received by the time of going to press.

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