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journalists media 248.88.ap.(Photo by: AP)
MKs vote to retain tax breaks for foreign journalists
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
12/22/2010
“The proposal had no financial significance and was just a slap in the face to the correspondents,” said Kadima MK Nahman Shai.
Weeks after The Jerusalem Post first reported on a Finance Ministry attempt to fully tax resident foreign journalists, MKs from both the coalition and opposition shot down the Treasury’s demand during marathon voting on the Economic Arrangements Bill Tuesday.

“Due to pressure from MKs, the Treasury was forced to give up on its intent to fully tax foreign journalists,” said MK Nahman Shai (Kadima), who spearheaded the effort against the proposed change to the current tax structure.

“We organized a great coalition of MKs who understood the importance of this bill. It shows that there are MKs from both the coalition and the opposition who are smarter than certain ministers. We saved the government from its own stupidity,” he said.

“The proposal had no financial significance and was just a slap in the face to the correspondents,” declared Shai.

Opponents of the clause complained that the legislation would have needlessly damaged Israel’s efforts at public diplomacy by sending a message to journalists that they were not wanted.

Originally, the Economic Arrangements Bill sought to rescind the partial income tax breaks offered to both foreign journalists living in Israel and foreign athletes playing for the country’s professional soccer and basketball teams.

While the athletes generate much greater incomes than the journalists, they also have some powerful support among domestic heavy-hitters, including the professional sports leagues. As a result of pressure from sports associations, the Treasury initially removed the clause in the bill that would have eliminated tax breaks for athletes, while the clause targeting the foreign press corps remained. The voting in Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, however, removed that clause as well.
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