Eitan Rob, the director of the Israel Tax Authority (ITA) and one of the key men behind the government's policy of reforming the economy, is to leave his job on January 1 and return to the private sector, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. Rob joined the Treasury in October 2001 as the head of the Customs & VAT Division and became the first head of the ITA in August 2004 when his department was merged with the Income & Property Tax Authority, an amalgamation that Rob oversaw. Finance Minister Ehud Olmert expressed his regret that Rob was leaving and praised him for the work he carried out. "The Tax Authority under Eitan Rob's leadership adopted standards of professional service and collection that were unknown in the public sector. Rob was successful in carrying out the unbelievable in the unification of the tax departments, to the benefit of the public and the government sector," Olmert said. Rob said he would be willing to continue assisting the authority even after his departure. During his time at the Treasury, Rob has been at the center of formulating and implementing government policy, including a five-year tax-cutting plan and the "Mass Valhalla" campaign to crack down on tax evaders. When he became the head of the unified tax authority in August last year, Rob said he would increase tax collection by NIS 1 billion over the following year. He made good on his promise, and the first nine months of 2005 saw the collection of fees and taxes rise to NIS 122.9b. from NIS 113.3b. in the same period of 2004. Under an NIS 11b. tax-reform program which the Knesset passed in August, the government will cut corporate taxes to 25% from 34%, and the top rate of income tax will fall to 44% from 49% by 2010. As part of the program, VAT fell to 16.5% from 17% at the beginning of September.