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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Finance Ministry’

Haredi Party Spearheading Effort to Protect Israeli Religious Charities from US Tax Authorities

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The heads of charity organizations in the ultra-Orthodox society, commonly known as Gemachim, received at least a temporary measure of relief from the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), ahead of a new amendment of the Income Tax Act that takes effect in September and compels Israeli financial institutions to report through the local tax authorities on the Israeli financial affairs of US citizens. The amendment is the result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) agreement between Israel and the US, which was a prerequisite for continued cooperation between Israeli and American financial institutions.

It’s not much, but MK Gafni demanded that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel order the banks to give the Gemachim time until the end of June to resolve their status as public institutions, which he hopes would allow them to exclude themselves from the FATCA rules. Gafni envisions a tweaking of the amendment to exclude groups with deposits of less than $50 thousand, or holdings worth less than $50 million.

According to Chairman Gafni, the new regulations could bring the collapse of the Gemachim. “The Israeli government signed an agreement with the US government without considering the disastrous consequences for one of the most important enterprises of the Jewish people that has existed for millennia — the charity and mutual aid societies,” Gafni said, explaining that the Gemachim are “the only means at the disposal of a person under financial duress to receive an interest-free loan to get back on his feet.”

MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), Chairman of the Public Petitions, summoned Dr. Ilan Steiner, Director of the Bank of Israel Currency Department, to his committee hearing, to warn him against another aspect of the US attack on these charity institutions. According to Eichler, banks are being forced under pressure from foreign governments to close the accounts of Gemachim accounts, “in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ and stopping money laundering, the IRS and the American government have become supervisors of all bank accounts around the world including in Israel. Everyone has to go through their inspection, so the Gemachim have received a letter that they will not be able to keep their bank accounts anymore.”

MK Eichler told Dr. Steiner: “I hope that the Bank of Israel find a way to abide by the agreements with the US while not mixing up the Gemachim with the war on terror. The banks must not become a burden and a restriction on associations and charity organizations who want to help people and do not engage in terrorism. There are limits to the madness of the banking system. We must not allow the charity organizations and Gemachim to be paralyzed by American pressures.”

The issues of compliance regarding money laundering and the war on terror stem from the side benefits of an IRS act that was intended to make sure US citizens who make money abroad share some of it with Uncle Sam. According to the IRS, FATCA targets tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts, focusing on individuals’ reporting about foreign financial accounts and offshore assets, as well as by foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

Using the US’ enormous economic clout, FATCA bullies the world’s financial institutions into reporting on their American clients to Uncle Sam. Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions must register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS about their US accounts, including accounts of foreign entities with a substantial US ownership. Foreign institutions that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA.

Talk about working for the Yankee dollar.

According to The Marker, Gemachim stand to suffer three different ways from the new law: instead of permitting a Gemach to transfer money into their accounts, they could now be questioned regarding the source of the funds and whether or not tax was paid on them in the US; each deposit could be subject to harassment by the bank, in order to verify that it is not part of a money laundering scheme; and the Gemach could be saddled with a new definition as a financial institution, and as such would be compelled to report on its fund sources to the IRS or face criminal sanctions.

JNi.Media

‘Painful Cuts Ahead in Jerusalem’ Warns Mayor Barkat

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

A deaf ear from the Finance Ministry will force the city of Jerusalem to send home thousands of workers across the capital, Mayor Nir Barkat warned on Thursday. Services in at least three key departments are also likely to be compromised.

The Jerusalem municipality has already notified 170 city cleaning workers of impending layoffs after a request for additional funding was denied by the Finance Ministry.

Some 2,000 more workers across the city are also to be laid off and the city’s cultural institutions, social services and education infrastructure will be affected as well.

“It’s an intolerable decision but unfortunately we have no choice,” Barkat said in a statement Thursday.

“The refusal of the Finance Ministry to transfer funds to Jerusalem does not allow the city to continue to provide these services. We are forced to take this most difficult step and lay off the workers we need.

“Making cutbacks on municipal requests affects social services, education and culture and it means the layoff of thousands of workers in the city,” Barkat warned.

“We were expected that in a period of terrorism there would be wider support, rather than be shown a cold shoulder,” he said.

“Without the transfer of government support to Jerusalem, there will be no escaping more painful cuts that will further compromise the standing of Israel’s capital city, and will hurt each and every resident.”

Hana Levi Julian

Jerusalem Declares War on Israeli Govt. with Garbage Trucks and Psalms

Monday, November 16th, 2015

(JNi.media) Hundreds of municipal employees of the City of Jerusalem are planing to demonstrate on Monday morning in the Israeli Government Complex with 50 garbage trucks and dozens of municipal vehicles, following the announcement of budget cuts planned by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Army radio reported. Treasury officials are unafraid, declaring, “We will continue to advance the city.”

The Jerusalem municipality appears committed to a fight to the bitter end against the Finance Minister. A letter sent to Kahlon by the capital’s administration warns that the cuts he proposes would result in hundreds of kindergartens losing their security personnel. The full list includes dramatic cuts in education, welfare and culture.

The Finance Ministry is outraged by this campaign of Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, and Treasury officials are expected to meet Monday morning with the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin to push back the attack on their decisions, even as the City’s protest continues downstairs.

Barkat posted on his Facebook page a call to “the Treasury and its leader” accusing them of forgetting Jerusalem, paraphrasing the Psalm verses (137:5-6), Barkat said Kahlon et al “forgot thee, O Jerusalem, forgot their right hand, and their tongue cleaves to the roof of their mouth, because they did not raise Jerusalem above their greatest joy.”

Where else but in Israel would a mayor and a minister conduct their open warfare using both garbage trucks and biblical verses?

“We have come today to protest the abandonment of Jerusalem,” Barkat proclaimed, “to sound the voice and the opposition of the people to the finance minister’s unprecedented refusal to transfer the funds necessary for the existence and strengthening of our capital city.”

Finance Ministry officials said in an angry response that “apparently Nir Barkat’s Jerusalem municipality suffers from serious managerial problems, otherwise there is no explanation to how they’ve wasted the $500,000 allocated to them in recent years. The Ministry of Finance will continue to develop and advance the city along with Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin.”

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Yael Antebi told Army Radio that “as member of Knesset, Kahlon promoted a law to increase the grants allocated to the capital. What happened [to his commitment] when it is now in his hands? Did it evaporate, like his promise to take care of the gas monopoly?”

Candidate Moshe Kahlon promised voters to resolve the disputes surrounding the best way to utilize the vast natural gas reserves off Israel’s shores—but after he was elected, Finance Minister Kahlon recused himself from dealing with the issue altogether, citing a personal relationship with the parties involved.

JNi.Media

Gasoline Prices to Drop by Nearly 5 Percent

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

The government once again is preventing Israeli motorists from enjoying the full effect of the plunging price of oil and will limit the drop in the price at the pump to 25 agorot midnight Monday.

A hike in the excise tax will rake in another 5 agorot a liter for the Finance Ministry.

The new price of 95 octane will be 6.05 shekels at self-service stations, but discounts often are available at several stations run by smaller companies.

The price of oil has dropped by nearly 20 percent since last month, but the shekel-dollar rate has risen by 2 percent.

The government adjusts the price of gasoline at the pump at the of every month, ostensibly to prevent gasoline companies from charging too much money

In effect, the price control actually guarantees the companies a fat profit, which explains why discount stations cut the rate even further and still make lots of money.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Israel Follows US Lead on Hunting Citizens’ Foreign Assets

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Israelis who have not filled out forms for declaring their assets to the Israel Tax Authority and have unreported overseas bank accounts are being targeted, Globes reports, in ways mirroring the methods of the IRS and U.S. Treasury.

In an agreement reached between Israel’s Finance Ministry and the United States more than a year ago, the Israel Tax Authority agreed to report the accounts of U.S. citizens in Israel to the IRS. In exchange, the IRS agreed it “may” report on income in the accounts of Israelis in the United States.

The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for “improving global tax enforcement” requires banks in dozens of foreign countries to collect and share private financial information about millions of Americans living and working outside the U.S.

Tens of thousands of Americans who came on aliyah fall into this category, and have since been warned by their banks they must fill out an annual IRS W-9 and “FBAR” (Foreign Bank Account Report.)

“The U.S. sent a delegation here, which examined our systems and information security and was very impressed,” said Israel Tax Authority head Moshe Asher in a speech this week to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP.)

Asher told participants at a business conference this week to expect more arrests of Israelis with unreported overseas assets.

According to the Tax Authority, there are Israelis who are holding an estimated NIS 50 billion in concealed capital in unreported accounts around the world. And after starting a war on illegal capital, Asher commented that the Tax Authority has already raised income tax revenue by NIS 3.5 billion over projected forecasts since the beginning of the year.

“Switzerland was once the world’s safe deposit box from which no information could be extracted,” Asher said.

But, “they have been forthcoming recently, even if in contravention of Swiss law… Inroads have been made in Swiss banking confidentiality – it’s like any other country now, subject to conventions and obligated to provide information.

“Secrecy is over: the world has become more transparent and much smaller… This is the time to come and make an arrangement for unreported capital, because the tax authorities will find it.”

Hana Levi Julian

9 Hospitals Okay to Buy MRIs, ‘Without Funding’

Friday, December 5th, 2014

In principal, nine Israeli hospitals received approval Thursday to purchase – at their own expense – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines.

The green light came from the Knesset Labor, Social Services and Health Committee just before Yesh Atid MK and Health Minister Yael German quit her post after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fired German’s party chairman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, from his post in the coalition government.

The hospitals were blocked by the Finance Ministry from purchasing the life-saving machines until now, even at their own expense, due to the costs to the HMOs.

Hospitals marked to receive the machines over the next three years include five state-owned medical centers – Wolfson in Holon, Ziv in Tzfat, Hillel Jaffe in Hadera, Poriya in Tiberias and Bnei Zion in Haifa; Emek in Afula, owned by Clalit Health Services and three others to be decided in future.

In September 2010, eight new MRI machines were approved for various hospitals and medical centers around the country as well.

MRI scan is a medical procedure in which human body organs and structures can be viewed using a large magnet and radio waves. The instrument is used most often to scan the brain, spinal cord, chest, abdomen, blood vessels and bones.

It is used to help diagnose various medical conditions and diseases or abnormalities such as tumors, infection, injury or bleeding. But due to the expense involved, an MRI is usually only recommended in Israel only after a problem has been spotted in an X-ray, CT scan or ultrasound scan.

Also approved just before the resignation of the health minister was permission for the purchase of a Positron-Emission Tomography (PET) scanner by the Augusta Victoria hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.

The number of CT machines being used for dentistry around the country, however, are to be limited in order to minimize overexposure to radiation.

Purchase of a nuclear accelerator was also approved for cancer treatment in the center of the country, along with cardiology x-ray machines and special decompression chamber.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel to Vacate ‘All’ IDF Bases in Central Region

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Israel plans to vacate all its bases in the central region in the coming months, according to Harel Locker, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, who has been tasked with the goal in order to streamline the military system.

Locker made the statement at Tuesday’s Globes-BDO Ziv Haft Capital Market Conference, saying budget cuts for the defense establishment had forced the move.

Last week the IDF warned it was halting air force training and non-active flights, as well as all non-active training programs for career and reserve personnel due to the budget cuts imposed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid.) The drastic measures came following the ministry’s refusal to infuse additional funds into defense coffers which had already been approved in a special vote by the Cabinet in October. The squabble over funds comes at a time when a new unity government between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization has been re-established under the PLO in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and terrorism against Israel is on the rise on both sides of the 1949 Armistice line (also known as the “Green Line” or “pre-1967” line.)

“All of the land on which IDF bases between Haifa and Be’er Sheva” are located would be up for sale, Locker said – effectively raising money for defense through the capital markets rather than earmarking funds in the state budget.

“This sort of government investment will contribute to economic activity in the market. It will also free up land for more than 100,000 housing units in high-demand areas in central Israel,” he noted.

In addition, Locker claimed the move towards the northern and southern periphery would boost the economy in those areas. “Tens of thousands of career officers and soldiers will work, live, buy and enrich” those regions, he claimed.

However, so far the move by the air force to the periphery doesn’t seem to have done much other than create havoc on roads in the south that were never built to accommodate the increased amount of traffic. The construction project to widen and develop the area around the Nevatim air force base, meanwhile – particularly the reconstruction of Route 31 from the Shoqet Junction near Be’er Sheva to Arad – has turned the entire northeastern Negev upside down for more than a year, with little to show for it other than more vehicular accidents.

Locker said the state would fund the project through sales of the land on which the bases are now located – “the most expensive lands in high demand areas… for tens of billions of shekels.” He said he was turning to the business community gathered at the conference for extra-budgetary financing of the project – “financial institutions, banks and other entities.” He added that he hoped to complete the process “within a few weeks.”

Rachel Levy

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-to-vacate-all-idf-bases-in-central-region/2014/06/03/

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