Tax on IDF grant for reservists to be axed

Reservists to receive hundreds to thousands of shekels deducted last year "very soon" defense ministry says.

IDF soldiers in training  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF soldiers in training
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The Defense and Finance ministries have proposed legislation to dismiss the significant tax on a grant given to them by the IDF, which will return thousands of shekels to their bank accounts.
Currently, reservists serving over 32 days a year receive a special grant from the army but pay a 25% tax on the grant. The new bill proposed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman would cancel that tax immediately and return the amount deducted from their grant for 2017.
This means that hundreds of reservists will receive hundreds to thousands of shekels to their bank accounts “very soon,” read a statement from the Defense Ministry, adding that the budget is estimated at NIS 10 million a year.
While the state already grants incentives such tax benefits to reservists, saving them close to NIS 4m., this proposed bill is the first by a joint team of the Finance and Defense ministries, which is formulating additional ways to make it easier for reservists and conscripts.
“The next campaign will be decided mainly by the reserve force, and it is our duty to pay tribute to reservists and their families for bearing the burden of protecting the people of Israel in their land,” Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan told The Jerusalem Post. “In addition, it was decided that we will bring a number of new additional benefits to the Ministerial Committee on Reserve Affairs which will meet in two months.”
While Israel is known for its compulsory draft for 18-year-olds, according to army statistics, reservists make up approximately 71% of the IDF’s manpower.
In May, the army released figures showing a breakdown of who serves in the reserves whose average age is 32. Tel Aviv contributed the most reservists for a second year in a row, with 37,156, while 34,182 reservists from Tel Aviv served in 2016. The numbers in Jerusalem stood at 28,252 – up from the 26,666 in 2016.
The number of women serving in the reserves has continued to increase over the years, men still account for the majority with 83%, down from 84% in the previous year. According to army figures, the number of reservists who are parents dropped significantly between 2015 and 2016, from 29% to 11%.
Lawmakers have already approved several benefits to reservists and conscripts-such as raising the salary of IDF soldiers by 50% last year. Last December lawmakers approved several benefits for reservists and their families, including special examination dates for those studying, and extending the deadline of payments to the government for something as small as a parking ticket, if a reservist is called up for an emergency situation such as war.
A new wage agreement for army reservists who are independently employed was also signed in June between the National Insurance Institute, the Defense Ministry and the IDF. The agreement will see the wages of independent army reservists increase by 25% and will see independent reservists get a back payment from January 2016 from the IDF.
But according to a source in the Defense Ministry, several benefits have not yet been implemented such as those working in the civil service to have their leadership experience recognized and get preference for management positions and giving priority to commanders who would like to work in the civil service.
In June, a bill was passed would see active reservists receive a 5% reduction on municipal property taxes. The Post learned in September that the Interior Ministry was stalling to implement this decision but according to the source, agreements have been reached with the Interior Ministry, which is expected to submit a final draft in the coming weeks.