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Aug 27, 2012

Making Arnona Discounts more Difficult To Obtain

Jerusalem City Councilwoman Meirav Cohen is petitioning the finance ministry to take away the control over arnona exemptions and discounts from the hands of the local municipalities and turn it over to more central control - via Bituach Leumi. Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, etc..

Cohen claims the problem with the current system is that the Ministry of Interior determines the table of discounts, but then leaves it in the hands of the local municipalities to process, which causes three levels of inefficiency:
1. weak areas become weaker as the residents reliance on the increased discounts becomes greater. The fact that they control deciding who qualifies, ends up weakening them rather than strengthening the local governments.
2. It is expensive for the local authorities to have systems to check qualification for discounts, especially when the central government already has such systems in place.
3. The fact that the local municipality is doing the checking means the potential work ability of the applicant is not taken into account. Somebody not working but also not looking for work will qualify for the discounts while at the same time someone trying to work but only making a very low salary will not qualify.

You can see on Ynet more details of Cohen's explanation of why the current system is bad and how it causes the local municipalities to lose money.

Basically, her main idea is that by not making the qualification take into account potential earning power, less and less people are paying. The main victim of this change will be the haredi sector, whom, under the current rules, qualify almost automatically for arnona discounts if the man is learning in kollel (and the wife is not working or earning little enough), but will have to work harder to qualify if the rules get changed and more checks are put into place, which would only happen if it were controlled by a central system.

They actually change the qualification rules all the time. I remember from way back when, when I was learning in kollel, that they had different rules which changed every couple of years. Sometimes stipends were included in income, sometimes they were not. Sometimes parental assistance was included and sometimes it was not. Sometimes they checked, and sometimes they automatically approved. Sometimes the applicant had to bring a letter from his rosh yeshiva or rav, and sometimes his word was enough. It does seem that without a uniform system in place, there is too much room for unbalanced flexibility. However, those who actually do qualify under the rules should not be punished for bureaucratic inefficiency. People who qualify for discounts should not be blamed when they take advantage of the allowance.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, this article (at Ynet) received a huge number of comments. Naturally, most of them appear to be anti-Charedi. Uniform standards for arnona reductions are probably a good idea, but if politics intrudes, people will [continue to] claim that it's yet another giveaway to Charedim. More interesting are the statistics of how large a percentage of the budgets or certain iriyot come from the national government - that is the real unwarranted subsidy of cities/towns with many people who refuse to serve and refuse to work. In the end, if done right, this kind of economic pressure will slowly cause a shift in society and more and more people will begin to get meaningful education and begin to work in something productive. That can only be good for the country!


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