Finance Ministry: Numerous Tax Authority offices falsifying numbers of fines levied

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss warned the Finance Ministry in his annual report that its Tax Authority must begin enforcing penalties on those citizens who have been slapped with "administrative fines" stemming from violations of the 1987 income tax laws. The law details the fines that are to be paid for violation of numerous tax clauses, something which the comptroller says was blatantly ignored by the Tax Authority. Additionally, the report revealed that many of the Tax Authority's regional offices, which are responsible for the collection of these fines, have not only improperly assigned and collected fines, but moreover, have been falsifying the actual numbers of fines levied, contributing to 73 percent "growth" in the numbers of fines doled out from 2005, a number which in fact is far from accurate. Lindenstrauss's report, which is based on Tax Authority activities between June-September 2006, noted that among a random selection of 30 tax-paying citizens, 18 had in fact committed offenses to warrant some form of penalty, yet had not been warned or much less fined. Similarly, a group of taxpayers who had committed several violations were only fined for a portion of the violations that they had committed. Lindenstrauss also highlighted that while the law as it is written demands the levying of penalties for any of 11 different violations, the Tax Authority's information system can only produce intelligent, or useful, information to be used in locating offenders for three of those violations. Additionally, the report points out that if a fine is not paid within five years of it being handed down, it is "erased" from the authority's books, a loophole that has cost the government some NIS 10.8 million in unpaid fines between 2002-2006. The Finance Ministry was not willing to comment on the findings of the report.