a land, which, as the good book says, devoureth its inhabitants and washeth
them down with its tourists and foreign workers.
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
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:
PAY = ( DECLARED AMOUNT X 9)
X PERCENT FOR TAXES
“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
Moreover, this story is true, even though some of the
language may be inappropriate for children.
Continued. . . .