Court rejects request for tax exemption on overseas bribes

Some companies request tax deductions for philanthropy, others for restaurants bills. But one Israeli business tried to push the envelope by asking to deduct nearly $860,000 it paid in kickbacks. A Tel Aviv district court rejected the petition on Feb. 8. The business, whose name was withheld by the court, asked to deduct the sum for kickbacks that were paid to help spur a business deal. The Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported that the deal took place in an unidentified African nation. The company alleged the kickback was necessary as a part of the local business custom and therefore should be exempted from the Israeli law. The transaction was carried out in 1999, four years before Israel adopted a UN anti-corruption convention. Judge Magen Altuvia ruled that an Israeli business must adhere to the values of its home nation even while conducting business abroad. The "state's values don't stop at its borders and the petitioner's request damages the bedrock of Israeli law and its legal system," the judge wrote. The business, however, countered that the business conducted in this particular country did not pose a threat to Israeli business ethics at home or in other nations abroad.