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Israel is a land, which, as the good book says, devoureth its inhabitants and washeth them down with its tourists and foreign workers.  Today, in “modern” Israel, a vast number of agents are diligently at work to turn this biblical verse into a living reality.  But no other public institution succeeds as well as the Tax Department.

Allow me to bore you with details: I live  in Israel's frontierland, near the border with Lebanon in Kiriat Shmona, known affectionately to my SpellCheck as, “Quirt Simon.”  I teach English in the local high school, and my wife, a psychologist, works in city schools.  This means that our jobs are secure and steady, and our wages, meager and a source of mirth to the loved ones we left behind in the Diaspora (or, to my SpellCheck, the “Disappear”).  We grew up in the wonderful sixties, and, as they later gave way to the seventies and worse,  we witnessed the tragic spectacle of our peers  who had to kiss goodbye to ideals of impaired mobility as they scrambled up the ladder economic success.  Living on regular Israeli salaries, we never had to suffer that particular fate.   Furthermore, as  Israelis, we are used to people asking us how much we make.  So go ahead, ask us.  About 16,000 shekels (which are called New Shekels)  a month; lessay 4000 dollars American, (which we call Dollars), you nosy, falafel kisser.  Sixteen thousand Shekels looks pretty good to a lot of our un and semi- employed neighbours , although there is also a growing number of people around who have found ways of raking in huge sums of monthly moolah.  A few of them even do it by virtue of their talent and ambition,  others have managed to land a thick wedge of the political pie, and still others sell drugs.  

          Anyway, the reason for going into all this is to explain that, -- were we living away  in some non boder area like Holon, we would be in a tax bracket that would siphon off around 25% of my salary and none of my wife’s.  But as an incentive to get people to settle in a community where, up until very recently, forty kilo of exploding metal could come  sailing through your bedroom just when you’ve finally gotten the baby to sleep, they  raised the tax bracket (or maybe lowered it, I never get how it goes) so that I have to pay no tax whatsoever on most of my earnings while my wife still pays the same nothing.  You’re still with me right?


          Now comes the exciting part.  (Screenplay by Jack the Ripper.  Special effects,  Kafka.  Diaog by David Mammet.).  By Israeli law, neither my wife or myself are allowed to accept any money for private work!!  This is because everybody knows that if a teacher gives a few private lessons, and pockets the money (which is called Black money)  he or she or me is in effect stealing money form the government.  What would happen if this went on unchecked?  Soon teachers would become the New Millionaires, take over the country, raze the Dome of the Rock to the ground and put up a huge blackboard.

          So the law goes something like this:  If you have your own business, like a three billion start up company or a three million contracting company, or you are a psychologist with 3 private clients ($300 per annum), you have to file as an independent (Ats- mah - EEEE) with the tax people.  First, they review all your papers  assets, and declared income;  They then estimate your next year’s income using the following formula:


                AMT to  PAY  = ( DECLARED AMOUNT X  9)

                                      X PERCENT FOR TAXES


            (Where “Declared Amount “ is obviously a dirty lie and only a tenth of what you really make)








This is the beginning of a sordid tale which starts off innocently enough with my wife declaring the $300 of private income which she was so proud of in 1998, and ending in a series of formal threats  from the Tax Dept. last Sunday that if we do not settle our bill of 342,544 Shekel by next month, well , our assets will be on the line, to put it mildly.


Moreover, this story is true, even though some of the language may be inappropriate for children.


To  Be Continued. . . .

B Z  S, 7.7.2000


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