26 July 12 17:03–One thing is absolutely clear: when all is said and done, there will be no choice but to find more revenue sources to the ones already revealed. Ministry of Finance Budget Director Gal Hershkowitz is pushing in this direction, on the assumption that the state budget deficit is permanent, and sharp tax hikes are necessary, in addition to the trapped profits (which are a one-time revenue source, anyway), and stricter tax collection.
The strategy is clear. First, the Budget Department will press the government to go to war and try to cancel the current exemptions, which amount to NIS 40 billion. Cancelling four key exemptions – on advanced training funds, VAT on fruits and vegetables, Eilat, and the betterment tax – can generate NIS 6 billion.
The cancellation of exemptions will force the government to fight bitter battles at great effort, even as it must keep reserves to pass NIS 14 billion in budget cuts. That is why there will be no choice but to raise direct taxes: individual income taxes (which will generate NIS 3 billion); or the companies tax (which will generate NIS 750 million); or another percentage point on the surtax on the rich (which will generate NIS 200 million); or the creation of another tax bracket for very high income earners.
The real problem
Opinion at the Ministry of Finance is not uniform. Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz adviser Avi Simhon and Deputy Minister of Finance Yitzhak Cohen believe that no sharp direct tax hikes should be enacted.
Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer today broke his long silence to again stand beside the Budget Department. Besides supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Steinitz, whom he called “responsible”, he had another explicit message: this is progress, but not enough. More is needed. Fischer’s message is honed even further in view of the conduct and characteristics of the message’s recipients, and is linked to a package deal – “I hope that within no more than a few days, we’ll see a package that will really change the Israeli economic situation.”
In other words, Fischer is calling on the government not to capitulate or surrender to pressure…Read More>>