Law­mak­ers cut debt for em­ploy­ers of asy­lum-seek­ers

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By TAMARA ZIEVE (Corinna Kern/Reuters)

The Knes­set Fi­nance Com­mit­tee and Tax Au­thor­ity agreed on Tues­day to re­duce by some 40% the amount owed by busi­nesses for levies on asy­lum-seek­ing for­eign work­ers.

The ar­range­ment pre­sented at a meet­ing con­vened by the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee marked a com­pro­mise be­tween the Tax Au­thor­ity and busi­ness own­ers on retroac­tive col­lec­tion of the levy, in­ter­est and fines. It came af­ter many busi­ness own­ers tes­ti­fied that they could not meet the full pay­ments re­quired by the au­thor­ity.

A High Court of Jus­tice rul­ing last Septem­ber im­posed a 20% sur­charge, ap­plied six years retroac­tively, on wages of for­eign work­ers with tem­po­rary res­i­dence per­mits. Busi­ness own­ers com­plained that the ad­di­tional tax would cause them heavy losses and might force them into bank­ruptcy.

The Tax Au­thor­ity set up pay­ment ar­range­ments that were even­tu­ally ex­tended un­til the end of May, giv­ing a 50% dis­count on in­ter­est on the ac­cu­mu­lated debts and en­abling re­pay­ment in 36 in­stall­ments. The ar­range­ment now ad­vanced by the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee gives busi­ness own­ers im­proved terms for set­tling their out­stand­ing debt.

Com­mit­tee chair­man MK Moshe Gafni (United To­rah Ju­daism) said af­ter many ef­forts to reach an agree­ment, a way was found to pre­vent the col­lapse of busi­nesses due to these debts. He thanked the Tax Au­thor­ity but at the same time said he felt the law should be en­tirely can­celed. He noted that the levy on for­eign work­ers was in­tro­duced to en­cour­age the hir­ing of Is­raeli work­ers, but it did not pro­duce the de­sired re­sults

Miri Savyon, deputy direc­tor of the Tax Au­thor­ity, said the deal was reached af­ter they re­al­ized that some em­ploy­ers would be un­able to pay the large ac­cu­mu­lated debts. “It is im­por­tant for us to col­lect the tax and on the other hand to let peo­ple make a liv­ing,” Savyon said, adding that the Supreme Court had also asked the Tax Au­thor­ity to re­con­sider the sums.

“We want to go for a broad and com­pre­hen­sive out­line for many busi­nesses in or­der to pre­vent fric­tion and to re­duce the prob­lem from the agenda. There are some busi­nesses that have not yet reached an au­dit, and it’s im­por­tant to know that this frame­work ap­plies to ev­ery­one.”

This ar­range­ment only ap­plies un­til the end of June, af­ter which the pre­vi­ous ar­range­ment will re­sume.

MKs Oded Forer of Yis­rael Beytenu and Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid re­quested that the time limit to ap­ply for the ben­e­fits be ex­tended three months, ar­gu­ing that one month was too brief.

Ac­cord­ing to the ar­range­ment, the in­ter­est on the debt and fines im­posed will be abol­ished through­out the pe­riod. Busi­nesses with a turnover of more than NIS 20 mil­lion must pay 45% of the debt by the end of June. Busi­nesses with a turnover of NIS 5m. to NIS 20m. must pay 30% and can do so in two in­stall­ments, one at the end of June and one at the end of July. Busi­nesses with a turnover of less than NIS 5m. must pay 15% of the debt and can also do so in two in­stall­ments on the same dates.

The bal­ance of the debt will also be spread out to 36 pay­ments. Ad­di­tion­ally, there will be the pos­si­bil­ity of ad­di­tional as­sis­tance for those busi­nesses which find it dif­fi­cult to re­pay ac­cord­ing to the guide­lines.

A re­quest by the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee chair­man to re­im­burse those who have al­ready paid their debts will be ex­am­ined on a spe­cific ba­sis, Savyon said.

MK Ei­tan Broshi of the Zion­ist Union op­posed the ar­range­ment say­ing, “All this money is stolen. We can­celed the em­ploy­ers’ tax in agri­cul­ture. We agreed here that it was un­jus­ti­fied. Also here the tax is un­jus­ti­fied. For­eign work­ers are the ones who agree to work there. These busi­nesses barely live. Why are tak­ing money from them for for­eign work­ers? They are pay­ing them a salary. This is a coun­try that wants to pro­duce, which is build­ing fac­to­ries over­seas. Some­thing here went wrong. You have to erase the debts. You are not serv­ing an in­crease of pro­duc­tion.” ASY­LUM-SEEKER Zwedi Haileslasie pre­pares tra­di­tional Eritrean cof­fee at her home in Tel Aviv last month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.