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July 1, 2016 / 25 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘tax’

VAT Tax Up

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Israeli VAT tax went up 1% to 18% on Saturday night. It’s now at its highest level in a decade. The government expects the tax hike will raise an additional NIS 4.4 billion a year in revenue, assuming the economy stays strong.

The price of gasoline also rose to NIS 7.52 for 95 octane. This is due to the rising price of imported gas.

The government found itself in a large deficit for two primary reasons.

It bet again on the viability of implementing a two year fiscal plan, but that didn’t work out as well as it did the first time around, when costs were higher, and revenue was lower than expected.

The second reason is that the government gave money away in the form of free dental care for children, free nursery school, and other perks, in response to the summer social protests, and now it has to pay for the debt those perks incurred.

Jewish Press News Briefs

IRS Punished Conservative Non-Profits, Perhaps Also Pro-Israel Groups

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

For more than a year the U.S. Congress has been investigating whether the Internal Revenue Service was inappropriately treating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, or burdening such groups with requests and demands which are impermissible, as many had claimed.

Friday, May 10, the IRS person in charge of the division dealing with non-profits, Lois Lerner, apologized for actions taken by the agency which were based on political affiliation.

“That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.

“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.

How did the IRS do this?  By singling out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, Lerner admitted.

The Ways and Means Committee has been seeking information on precisely this activity and “the IRS repeatedly denied they were targeting conservative grassroots organizations,” said committee chair Dave Camp (R-MI) in response to the revelation.  He announced  that the committee will soon hold hearings on this now-admitted practice by the IRS.

Camp stated in a press release issued just after the admission of wrongdoing by the IRS, “The IRS absolutely must be non-partisan in its enforcement of our tax laws. The admission by the agency that it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both shocking and disappointing. The Committee on Ways and Means will thoroughly investigate this matter and will soon hold a hearing to get to the bottom of this situation.  We will hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”

PRO-ISRAEL GROUP SUED IRS CLAIMING TARGETING PRACTICE

While they are at it, the committee might want to ask the IRS whether their list of targets extended beyond political party discrimination. There is evidence the IRS also targeted pro-Israel groups whose positions were potentially inconsistent with the administration’s.

For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny.  This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy reveiw of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application.

In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”

Z STREET’s lawsuit claims the IRS activity constitutes viewpoint discrimination and a violation of its constitutionally protected right of free speech.  The organization is seeking, among other things, complete disclosure to the public regarding the origin, development, approval, substance and application of the IRS policy to treat pro-Israel organizations differently than it does other organizations. (disclosure: this reporter was the founder and president of Z STREET when the litigation was filed.)

At least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel.  Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”

For years the IRS has denied it took any such inappropriate actions and has done its best to prevent Z STREET from pursuing its claim of viewpoint discrimination. The IRS even took the position that because Israel is a country “where terrorism happens,” the service was justified in taking additional time to determine whether Z STREET was involved with funding terrorism.  Z STREET is a purely educational organization that has never funded anything, either in Israel or anywhere else.

Coincidentally, after two and a half years of non-movement, the very first hearing in Z STREET v IRS was recently scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, July 2, in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia.

Representatives of several tea party groups rejected the apology offered by the IRS, and insist that steps be taken to prevent such blatant discrimination in the future.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Four Jewish Democrats in Top House Committee Slots

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) preserved his top slot on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, as did Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on the Energy Committee, after the caucus’ standing committee announced its selections on Tuesday.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) ascended to the top slot on the Appropriations Committee and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is now the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Lowey replaced Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), who is retiring, and Engel replaced Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who was defeated in the November election.

Berman is one of two Jewish Democrats relinquishing top committee spots; Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is retiring, leaves the top slot on the House Finance Committee to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

The Democratic leadership touted the preponderance of women and minorities in top slots on 22 committees, casting it against the all-white male Republican leadership in the House.

JTA

Yechimovitch: I’ll Raise Taxes

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

According to a report on Israel Channel 10, Shelly Yechimovitch, the head of the Labor party, said that if she is appointed Minister of Finance, she would increase healthcare taxes, legislate an inheritance tax, and increase the corporate tax rate.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Reb Elimelech’s Ascent To Leadership (Part XIII)

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In 1648 and 1649 Bogdan Chmelnitzky and his hordes of Cossack warriors perpetrated an annihilation campaign against the Jews of Poland and the Ukraine. Almost 100,000 Jews and 300 communities perished at the hands of these murderous mobs. All of the Jews, including infants, were targeted for murder; the general populaces nearly always joined in the attacks, and the torture and degradation of Jews was an integral aspect of the murderer’s procedures. None of those who survived were spared pillage and plunder, looting and larceny.

The Chmelnitzky massacres were a holocaust – no different than the Holocaust we are all familiar with. Only the techniques were not as efficient and modernized, as it was not captured on film.

After these devastations it was only natural to hope for – indeed to expect – the arrival of the Messiah to redeem the tattered masses from their misery and squalor. Their desperation was so great that they were ready to believe the outlandish assertions of a Greek Jew named Shabbetai Zvi, who claimed to be the messianic redeemer.

But Shabbetai Zvi was an imposter, a persuasive one with a good public relations team, but no more than a charlatan that misled an anxious and desperate people. And if his deceit was not great enough, he dealt a crushing blow when he converted to Islam to avoid punishment.

The Shabbetai Zvi debacle brought on its heels a subsequent fiasco with the emergence of Yaakov Frank, who claimed to receive Divine revelations. Against the warnings of the rabbis, Frank managed to keep Shabbetainism alive until he encouraged his followers to adopt

Christianity.

The debacles in the Jewish community were concomitant with Poland’s inner convulsions that followed the Chmelnitzky massacres. There were the Tatar incursions from Crimea, the Moscow War and the Swedish War, each one ratcheting more bloodshed, suffering and destruction to the beleaguered Jews of Poland. Thousands were killed, thousands were forcibly converted to Christianity, and the remainder were uprooted, scattered, persecuted and exiled.

It was at this time that the Church renewed and strengthened the blood libels, accusing entire Jewish communities of having murdered a Christian child so that the victim’s blood could be utilized as an ingredient for matzah. From 1700-1760 not a single year passed when a libel was not attempted, and dozens of court cases were brought to trial in order to further aggravate the hatred of the Jew.

Eventually, the central institution of the Eastern European Jews, the Vaad Arba Artzos (Council of Four Lands), was compelled to send a delegation to Rome to appeal to the pope to issue a decree clarifying that Jewish law does not require the sacrifice of a Christian child prior to Passover for the purpose of matzah-baking.

The governments of the region could barely have been more anti-Semitic. There was a stiff head tax on every single Jew, a communal tax and additional taxes and fines were periodically imposed. The inability to pay one’s tax to a local landowner meant imprisonment – often for the entire family.

The ability to earn the most modest livelihood, let alone the execrable taxes and fines Polish Jewry was burdened with, was no easy feat. Vast numbers of professions were forbidden to Jews, leaving only a few realms of despised employment available, such as moneylending and running taverns for the local Polish landowners.

For the simple, peasant Jews, and even for the modestly more successful ones, the situation was extraordinarily bleak. The only person that had offered any hope was Shabbetai Zvi, and the aftershocks of that disaster were still palpable.

The rabbinic leadership was unable to relate to the masses and offer solace or comfort, the consequence being a disconnect between the rabbis and the people. The few rabbis that dared to speak out about the corruption that prevailed among their colleagues who had acquired their positions by bribing officials faced punishment or banishment. The less courageous blamed the suffering on the diminishment of Torah learning. The solution to the privations, the torment, the poverty and the false accusations, they pressed, lay, as always was the case, in repentance.

The rabbis had no novel ideas to suggest or a formula that was specifically adapted to the times. On the contrary, anything that seemed to vary in even the minutest detail from age-old tradition was viewed as dangerous and squarely verboten.

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

The Four Most Common Financial Mistakes

Monday, September 24th, 2012

As a financial adviser I notice that certain money mistakes are very commonplace. Are you making these kinds of errors that can destroy a fortune?

Instead of learning from your own mistakes, try learning from other people’s mistakes. Below is a list of some of the most common mistakes in financial planning:

1. Putting off buying life or health insurance. Even if you are still young and you belong to the mindset of “it will never happen to me,” the truth is that you never know. Accidents, terror attacks, and sudden illnesses are all in the hands of the One Above, and although no one should ever go through life in a constant state of fear and worry, it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality. Think of your insurance policy as “risk management.”

2. Passing up tax breaks. When considering whether to buy or sell an investment, don’t only look at the figures. Find out what this means in terms of tax. How will the dividends/interest be taxed? Does the investment have any kind of tax deferral or tax-free status? While tax status shouldn’t be your sole concern in purchasing investments, make sure to keep tax liabilities in mind.

3. Buying or holding stocks for the wrong reasons. Are you holding onto a stock out of sentimental reasons, because you inherited it from a loved one? Are you thinking of buying a stock simply because you enjoy the company’s products? Don’t base your decisions on emotions. Do your homework, and only buy the stocks that make the most financial sense for you. If you are not sure how to work this out, consult with a financial planner.

4. Not taking enough risk. Some people are very cautious by nature, and they would prefer to invest their money with the least risk of loss. Although this might sound prudent because it minimizes the chance of loss, the other side of the equation means that your gains will be limited. Of course, the appropriate level of risk for you depends very much on your personal situation, so speak to your financial adviser about what is appropriate for you.

Keeping these four points in mind should help you avoid some of the most common money mistakes. Don’t make these mistakes, and if you do, visit a qualified Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) for help in fixing them.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Obama Tells ’60 Minutes’ He Tunes Out Netanyahu’s ‘Noise’ (Video)

Monday, September 24th, 2012

President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes Sunday: “You‘re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign, to try to get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand…?”

The president responded: “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”

Obama sounded belligerent later on, when he commented on Mitt Romney’s charge that his foreign policy is “a policy of paralysis,” blurting: “If Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.”

Romney’s Press Secretary Andrea Saul commented:

“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East… As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”

Romney worked hard to make “more elegant” his secretly taped remarks to an audience of wealthy donors in May, that 47 percent of the American people paid no income taxes, were dependent on government and would never vote for him.

He also distanced himself from his running mate’s reputation regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Congressman Paul Ryan wanted to reduce payments to the Medicare program by about $700 billion.

“Yeah, he was going to use that money to reduce the budget deficit,” Romney said of Ryan’s proposal. “I’m putting it back into Medicare, and I’m the guy running for president, not him.”

Romney discussed his plan to reduce income tax rates by 20%, adding that the plan would also limit deductions and exemptions. Responding to criticism that his tax reductions would favor the rich, Romney said in his tax plan “there should be no tax reduction for high income people.”

He said he wants to give middle class families a tax reduction by cutting taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. But he wouldn’t name the specific tax deductions and exemptions he would cut.

Skip to 10:59 for the ‘noise’ segment.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-tells-60-minutes-he-tunes-out-netanyahus-noise-video/2012/09/24/

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