Your Taxes: The season of our freedom

There are a few Israeli tax deadlines to note in the month of March.

Pessah is approaching and everyone will be celebrating the time we received our freedom. The children of Israel made their getaway from Pharoah of Egypt. And Julius Caesar met his end on the ides of March (March 15) according to Shakespeare.
So can we forget about taxes and stick to matzos?
Well, there are a few Israeli tax deadlines to note in the month of March.
By March 15, certain precious-stone importers and exporters and certain Eilat businesses had to file a declaration of their annual revenues in 2009 in lieu of filing monthly or bimonthly tax returns.
By March 20, annual withholding-tax certificates not relating to salaries (Form 867) had to be delivered to their recipients. This is relevant for payments relating to interest, rent, services or assets, metalwork jobs, clothing, electrical and electronics, transportation, construction, lotteries and gaming, artistes, examiners, lecturers, office services, directors‚ fees, athletes’ fees, authors‚ fees, insurance commission, diamond processing, diamond trading, farming and farm produce.
By March 31, various requirements must be met: (1) annual withholding-tax certificates relating to salaries (Form 106) must be delivered to each relevant employee; (2) tax relating to payments of salary, management fees, interest, indexation and other payments by a company to 10-percent-or-more shareholders must be withheld and the tax must be remitted to the Israel Tax Authority by April 7; (3) tax debts relating to 2009 may optionally be paid in order to receive a 25% reduction of interest and indexation thereon.
There was a requirement for the members of a combined VAT registration (usually partners) to each file a summary VAT return for 2009, pursuant to an amendment that took effect on January 1, 2010. However the deadline for this return has just been extended to May 31.
What about annual tax returns for 2009? Detailed rules apply and you should consult an accountant if you are unsure about whether you must file an annual personal tax return. In principle, the filing deadline for individuals who don’t keep double-entry books is April 30. However, on March 11, 2010, the Israel Tax Authority extended this deadline for 2009 returns to May 31.
Online returns
The announcement also reminds us that this time, anyone who is required to file a tax return and has income from a business, employment or agriculture must file the return online, pursuant to Amendment 161 of the Income Tax Ordinance. Online filing can be done in one of two ways: (1) do it yourself on the Internet on the Tax Authority’s Web site; or (2) via an accountant, tax advisor or lawyer who is hooked up to the Tax Authority’s SHAAM computerized service. The Tax Authority claims that online filing is user-friendly and enables the filer to fill out the return with wizard-like dynamic interactive assistance.
But for good measure, you must still print out the online return, sign it and hand it in the Tax Office the old-fashioned way, with supporting documents. This means the Tax Authority wants to have its matzo and eat it at the same time.
For businesses that keep double-entry books, the deadline forfiling annual tax returns is, in principle, May 31, but a system ofextensions generally applies if they use an Israeli CPA.
As always, consult experienced tax advisors in each country at an early stage in specific cases.
Leon Harris is an international tax specialist at Harris Consulting & Tax Ltd. and Western Fiduciary Ltd.