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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Report: Bank Leumi to Pay NIS 1 Billion in Fines to US for Suspected Money Laundering

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

According to a report that appeared in the Israeli Channel 2 news site Mako, Bank Leumi will be required to pay NIS 1 billion in fines to the US for suspected money laundering at its American branches.

The claim is that the US branches may have made transactions on American client’s accounts in the US branches, but not all taxes were paid as required by law.

The bank’s directors held a special meeting yesterday to agree to a compromise agreement with the US government, and pay the fine.

Banks not just in Israel but around the world are also under investigation by the US government for suspected money laundering, in violation of new US laws.

Credit Suisse was recently fined $2.5 Billion USD.

The Mako report states that Mizrachi-Tefachot and Poalim may also have to pay fines.

Killing Cash

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

The Israeli government hopes to put the kabash on cash transactions, starting with a plan that places a ceiling on the amounts starting in fiscal 2015 budget.

The director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Harel Locker told journalists in a briefing at the beginning of this week the government plans to limit cash transactions between businesses to NIS 5,000 after a one-year period, with the initial phase to begin at just NIS 7,500. Private citizens will be allowed cash transactions of up to NIS 15,000. But if the legislation goes through, the use of checks will also be restricted.

The initiative is aimed at ending the “black economy” that operates in much of the country, Locker explained, adding that  money laundering has risen over the past two years. He pointed to some three million cash transactions, each of which was more than NIS 5,000, that totaled some NIS 273 billion since 2012, as proof that things have to change.

The government, said Locker, has instead decided to take a leaf from the American notebook and is recommending that banks issue debit cards, rather than the VISA and MasterCard credit cards they currently use.

Most Israelis do not carry out transactions for more than NIS 5,000, Locker contended, thus he said it is expected the new plan will not cause difficulties for most of the population.

Nice and tidy — but that may not be the case: newlyweds who are buying furniture and other necessities for new homes often make their purchases with the cash gifts they receive at their wedding. Those shopping sprees are seldom carried out for less than NIS 10,000 and often involve the use of cash for extra bonus points or discount savings.

Other special events and holiday sales also often involve cash purchases as well – a fact the government seems not to be taking into account. Although Locker said he expects approval of the new law by the end of 2014, it is likely there will be more than a few bumps along the way – probably after his colleagues’ spouses find they find they can no longer go shopping without the government getting in the way.

But mostly, this is about too much government intrusion into the private lives and transactions of its citizens, by a government which wants to, invasively, be able to more easily track its citizens down to the smallest detail.

What’s next? Our biometric data on file with the government?

 

Israel, U.S. Reach Agreement on IRS Regs for Dual Citizens

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Americans living in Israel, watch out for this year’s June 30 tax deadline.

The Israel Tax Authority has formally reached an agreement with the U.S. regarding the Model 1 FATCA agreement with the IRS, according to attorney Dave Wolf, of the firm Hacohen and Wolf.

The full details of the FATCA Agreement are yet to be published upon the signing of the FATCA Agreement, but according to the Israel Tax Authority’s spokesman, the agreement contains certain restrictions on the use of information passed to the IRS and relief of reporting for certain institutions.

According to U.S. law, all U.S. citizens — regardless where they live — have an obligation to pay taxes on their worldwide income. In addition, in cases where the aggregate value of all foreign accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, they also have to report this information on a special form commonly known as the FBAR.

Since July 1, 2013, the FBAR needs to be e-filed before June 30 of the following tax year.

Under FATCA, foreign financial institutions (banks, hedge funds, pension funds, insurance companies etc.) are required to report information to the U.S. tax authorities (the IRS) information about foreign accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

This means the Israeli financial institutions will have to report to the U.S. government all their clients who are U.S. citizens and/or green card holders, disclosing all these accounts.

This has huge implications for any American living in Israel or abroad who has never reported his foreign accounts or paid taxes on its income to the IRS, and also to some states if applicable (such as NY and NJ).

Individuals have four options with which to comply, according to Wolf, who can be reached at this link for more information.

IRS Tax Regulations Prompt Olim to Revoke American Citizenship

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

A get-tough IRS policy on Americans living abroad has encouraged some Americans living abroad, including “olim” in Israel, to revoke their American citizenship, the Globes business newspaper reported.

The United States taxes its citizens’ income even if they have been living abroad for years, and agrees with most banks in the world now expose all of their financial accounts to the IRS and make them liable for heavy dual taxation.

One way to get avoid it is to renounce citizenship, which would preclude the IRS from chasing after people to pay taxes on income that does not come from the United States.

Changes in the Israeli tax code also have given big tax breaks to new immigrants as well as Israelis returning to the country.

“Although it is not clear how widespread this phenomenon is, and what relative importance U.S. citizens who immigrate to Israel place on this aspect among the array of considerations that they take into account in deciding to immigrate to Israel, tax residency is certainly a factor,” according to Israeli lawyers Eli Doron and Eyal Peled.

Gas to Pump $60 Billion into Economy in 20 Years, Says Lapid

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Israel’s new offshore gas industry will generate $60 billion in revenues in Israel over the next 20 years, Finance Minister and Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid told the Knesset in its first day of the winter session Monday.

He charged the Opposition with damaging the economy by placing obstacles to the natural gas hook-up, which Lapid said will help lower the price of electricity and boost employment.

Taxes on gas will allow Israel to lower taxes, he added.

The High Court is to decide on who has the authority to decide how much of the gas can be exported. Several Opposition parties are demanding that Israel retain all of the gas for domestic use. The government has adopted a policy of exporting 40 percent of the gas.

Legalizing Marijuana Would End Black Market, Says Israeli Study

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Legalizing marijuana would generate more than $450 million annually for the Israeli economy, according to  a new study released by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.

The black market for cannabis in Israel currently is worth $707 million annually, and legalizing the sale of grass, if taxed like cigarettes, would blow $268 million into the government’s money pot. In addition, it would save law enforcement agencies $198 million since they would not have to spend money to smokers of weed.

The study found that approximately 275,000 Israelis, 4 percent of the population, used marijuana in the past year, only 26 percent of Israelis support legalization of marijuana, while 64 percent opposes it.

In the United States, slightly more than half go those surveyed support legalizing grass. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 20 states to allow the use of medical marijuana. However, the Obama administration last week gave the green light for Colorado and Washington to carry  out their laws to permit recreational use of marijuana.

The Justice Department said it would bring charges on marijuana only in certain cases, such as distributing it to minors.

The announcement “demonstrates the sort of political vision and foresight from the White House we’ve been seeking for a long time,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group.

The Justice Department added that it is watching Colorado and Washington closely to see  if they can properly control marijuana use.

President Barack Obama has said he smoked grass when he was young, and a federal survey has found that 42 percent of Americans age 12 and older have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives.

The financial gains for states – and Israel is not being ignored,

“Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines,” said Yarden Gazit, who co-authored the study in Israel.  “There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time.”

News of the survey coincided with Canada’s launch of controlled medical marijuana, an industry that is expected to be worth more than $1 billion in the next 10 years. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for years but has been highly regulated. Now it is available by mail-order with a doctor’s approval.

Besides all of the arguments  over whether marijuana is a drug that can lead to addiction, the underlying desire for governments to legalize it is money.

“We’re fairly confident that we’ll have a healthy commercial industry in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior Health Canada official told the Canadian Press.  

The Green Leaf party in Israel has been trying to get into the Knesset for years to push its agenda to legalize pot. In early pre-election polls, it usually receives support that puts it on the brink of winning the minimum number of votes to win Knesset seats, but when the real ballots are counted, it always loses out.

The pro-marijuana campaigns in the United States may generate new enthusiasm to legalize marijuana in Israel, where liberal leaders  almost always turn to American for cultural guidance.

Portland, Maine media reported Wednesday that supports of legalizing recreation marijuana will start promoting their agenda on city buses, with a message that grass is a better and safer alternative to alcohol.

Critics have complained that the campaign should not be on buses because children ride them to school.

Portland’s voter will go the ballot box in November to decide on a proposal to legalize marijuana by 2016. I

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project has targeted Maine and nine other states in its campaign to legalize grass within three years.

The JTA contributed to this report.

Israel’s Tax Hikes Help Cure Smoking and Drinking

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Finance Minister Yair Lapid raised taxes – again – on cigarettes and alcohol in July, and there already is a change in consumption habits of Israelis, according to a marketing report cited by Globes.

The survey showed that 44 percent of those drink alcohol have reduced their intake, while 60 percent of smokers puff less. The C.A. Marketing Information Institute said that its survey covered a month before the tax hikes took effect and a month afterwards.

The liquor tax hike upped the price of Arak by more than 20 percent, with the tax increases focusing on drinks like Arak, which have a high level of alcohol.

The cigarette tax rose by 18 percent.

The bill for alcohol dropped by more than 20 percent, to an average of less than $40 per person. More significantly, the number of drinkers who said they kicked the habit rose from 17 percent before the reform to 29 percent afterwards.

Five percent of the Israelis Jews told the market survey that they stopped smoking after the tax hike, and one-third said they smoked fewer cigarettes.

The big drawback for Lapid is that he may have killed the goose that has laid the golden egg of reliable tax revenues, but it is worth cost by improving Israel’s health and longevity. Two long-term benefits might be less expenditures on health care and higher productivity at work, as well as a better family life.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israels-tax-hikes-help-cure-smoking-and-drinking/2013/09/15/

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