Feb 18, 2014

Quote of the Day

... maybe we should take the same position and declare a tax revolt! we will not pay any more VAT, not purchase tax (on houses), not capital gains taxes, not any other tax, not direct taxes or indirect taxes. Until the government understands that the Haredim too are citizens with equal rights in the State and for the taxes they pay they must receive in return just like any other citizen... 
A large family that buys its basic needs every day pays VAT. brings into the State coffers far more than a small family or those who have not established families. Enough already with the lexicon of "we are supporting them". You are not supporting us. We are supporting you.

 -- MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes (UTJ), in protest against the words of Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug yesterday when she said the high birthrate and low income of the haredim and Arabs is [partly?] responsible for a slowdown in the economy.

I am no economist, so id o not know if the numbers game being played by Mozes is correct or not. Does the  VAT on the milk, bread and cheese of large, poor families (those he is referring to) bought daily really surpass the income taxes paid by working parents even if they have only one, two or three kids? Does it surpass the VAT paid on the vacation packages they buy, the cars, stereos (do people buy those anymore?), computers, iPads and iPods, and all the other gadgets, garden equipment, pets, tools, amenities and goodies purchased by small families? I don't know, but I don't think his statement should be accepted without research.

Regardless of that point.. what really interests me is his call for a tax strike. I can see how a tax strike might work when it is businessmen threatening to not pay their taxes they must file, homeowners not paying property tax (arnona), etc.. but Mozes mentions purchase taxes and capital gains taxes. How does he think people are going to go to the supermarket to buy food and tell the shopkeeper that they refuse to pay the VAT? Does he think the shopkeeper will let him walk out with the milk and cheese anyway? When a young couple buys an apartment, are they going to tell the kablan they want the house but refuse to pay the purchase tax - will the kablan hand over the keys anyway?

I'd like to know the method he plans on employing for this tax rebellion. I'd like to see how it is possible to avoid paying VAT on items.

At least we know this Tea Party will only include tea that has a good hechsher!



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29 comments:

  1. He's making the point that THERE ISN"T ONE CHAREDI FAMILY IN THE COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T PAY TAXES. Enough of all of this "The Charedi don't pay taxes." I'll write it again.... THERE ISN"T ONE CHAREDI FAMILY IN THE COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T PAY TAXES.

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    1. Yes they pay taxes, however, when the average Charedi income is 5600 shekel and they receive 3600 shekels in direct benefits from teh government, the taxes they pay are much less then what they are receiving.

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    2. Is that figure of 3600 shekels based on actual figures? Can we know what they are?

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    3. Take a look here http://jewishworker.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/its-all-about-money.html

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  2. The question that matters, Jack, is what percentage of Charedi families pay more than they receive?

    Obviously, anyone who is dependent on Government assistance to survive is going to be receiving more, and those who don't need such assistance are paying more than they receive in (direct) benefits. The question is, which segments tend to be subsidizers and which the receivers of subsidies?

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  3. Avi,
    That's not the question at all. I don't see you asking it about other social groups. If you made the statement like you just made about blacks in America (or even beit shemesh for that matter) you would branded a racist.

    But anyway the point is that people run around all the time and say Chareidim don't pay taxes." It is an out and out lie. They don't use electricity, water or public transportation? Every drop of water is taxed.

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    1. Why would I ask it about other social groups? Are there other such groups in Israel that are culturally opposed to taking part in society and the greater economy? Charedim, as a rule, pay taxes on what they consume, but do not produce anything (officially) on which to be taxed. That is the sticking point for those who say that Charedim don't pay taxes. You want to hand-wave away the complaint by stating it's hyperbole, without responding to the actual issue.

      As an aside, I would definitely say it about Blacks in America. Why not? Inner-city Blacks don't have the same issue as Charedim, but they are certainly self-destructive and overly-burden social programs due to a culture that derides pursuit of education and avoidance of violent crime. Eh. Maybe not so different than Charedim after all!

      And I don't really get your point about BS. BS has a lot of Charedim, but the Blacks (read: Ethiopians) here are rather hard-working from what I've seen, and I've noticed plenty of them in Army uniforms.

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  4. Arnona, Jack, Arnona???

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    1. Arnona, just adding to the lie..

      There is a law that applies to everybody, chareidi, chilonim, dati leumi, druze, arabs, christians, reform, conservative, hindus (if we have anybody) everybody, the covers paying arnona and giving discounts. The law (that believe it not the Chareidim follow) takes into account people's income and size of family and allows for discounts. Not much different than the American tax system that many people reading this reap the benefits of from the child allowance credits and i don't see many complaining about that...
      Bottom line is the Chareidim pay arnona according to the law. Don't like the law, then change it....

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    2. Yes that is the law, but somehow the law gives discounts to just about every Charedi learning in kollel, so much so that the local Charedi political party offices have special hours where you can come in and arrange your discount.

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  5. Jack's right that the Charedi talk is ridiculous. The question is why is there Charedi talk and how can we change what we're doing so they stop talking about us. This whole galus mentality that the goyim are always against us is not an answer - Ben Gurion granted the Charedim an army exemption and spoke about it with pride. There is something we as Charedim are doing now, that baits the resentment. What is it? I'm not saying we can change it completely, but we can think about whether we should continue to contribute to the ill will or whether we can make an effort.

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    Replies
    1. Why now? Because, like most Socialist countries in the world, Israel is finding it harder and harder to fund various social programs and safety nets. As Charedim are the only group who have a cultural attachment to being leeches, it make sense to target them when discussing economic productivity.

      Despite the persecution complex of Ashkenazi Jews, their religious moors and practices are not under attack. What is under attack is the mentality that everyone else has a responsibility to feed and house Charedim while those Charedim have no responsibilities in return.

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    2. Using terms like leeches undermines any chance you have of contributing constructively to this conversation. Putting one's burdens upon others for the sake of a "higher good" may be ridiculous and even offensive, but a lack of compassion only drives those "higher beings" deeper into a corner.

      Not that anyone will ever warm up to losing subsidies, but at least have a matter-of-fact attitude so they can't accuse you and your political affiliates of being vindictive.

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    3. Forcing one's burdens upon others is not just offensive, it is theft. The Charedi position is not that of Yissachar in the Yessachar/Zevulun relationship. Their position is that of a Feudal Lord living off the back-breaking labor of their peasants.

      Charedim have to face facts: the peasants are leaving the farm and making a life for themselves. They owe their "Lords" nothing and have no desire to support them.

      The fact that Charedim feel there is anything at all to discuss is very telling.

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  6. What does Mozes want to strike for? Equality for the haredim? Wonderful! Lets start with the army. Aside from army service, I fail to see how haredim are being treated unequally.

    The chutzpah of these people to be demanding equality on one hand, and fighting tooth and nail to avoid equality with respect to one of the most basic duties of citizenship in this country, namely army service, on the other, really defies belief. Are those the kind of values Torah study inculcates? Give me my fair share (although in this case, I'm not sure exactly what it is he feels the haredim aren't getting that they should be), but don't you dare demand that we be subject to the same obligations? Whether that be with respect to army service or the other hot button issue, schools - heaven forbid that the haredi schools be forced, in exchange for government funding, to teach a minimum of secular subjects - just like all other schools that receive government funding (equality!), so that their graduates will have a better opportunity to compete in the job market, if they so choose.

    And heaven forbid that the head of the Bank of Israel should state her opinion if it goes against the hashkafa of the haredim. As we've seen, any opinion that challenges the haredi hashafa is clearly the result of anti-Semitism, blind hatred of haredim, and a desire to wipe out and destroy the holy Torah world that supports us all and keeps the world in existence.

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    1. the response to this, at least the first part, is that they believe they are giving their fare share of responsibilities - not in the form of army service, but in the form of learning torah which protects the nation (more? equal? to army service).

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    2. OK. Lets say, for purposes of argument, that's true. My question, though, still stands - what does Mozes propose to strike for? Usually, when there's a strike, there's a specific demand that goes with it. What is the demand here? Respect? No taxes paid until the head of the Bank of Israel apologizes, and the Knesset passes a resolution praising the haredi community for their Torah study and mesiras nefesh?

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    3. Baruch,

      I really don't think he was serious in proposing a strike. He was just using that at launch pad to show that the LIE that charedim don't pay taxes and don't contribute financially (ignoring all the other contributions we make to society) is just that. a lie. And like other lies, if repeated enough people start to believe it.

      That's the danger of lashon hara and that is what he is pointing out.

      Additionally the Chareid MK's were pointing out the she far overstepped her boundaries in making the statements she made in her position.

      If I had the resources I would stop everything else I was doing and conduct a massive study of the economic impact the Chareid society makes on Israel. Not that I believe that the Torah says that is a serious measurement of value. I'm not afraid of the results.

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    4. I have to say I don't understand why the Charedi politicians are insulted. The official Charedi ideology is that everyone should sit and learn and not work and that people should learn to live with little (e.g. be poor). This ideology doesn't work in a modern economic system.

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    5. OK. But I don't think Mrs. Flug ever said that Haredim don't pay taxes, and I don't think anyone else would seriously say such a thing. I believe this is a straw man argument. See bluke's comment below.

      What she said is the same thing Stanley Fischer and many others have said before her. Here is what I think is the key quote:

      Flug, speaking at a Central Bureau of Statistics seminar, said that "the makeup of the population is expected to change, with greater weight comprised by the Arab and especially the haredi sectors."

      "If we make the major assumption that the rate of employment in these sectors will remain the same, we can see that the projected demographic trends can be expected to reduce the employment by some 7 percent in the long term," Flug said.

      Flug said that in her assessment, these challenges would need to be addressed by a tax increase.


      I will freely admit that I am not qualified to intelligently access her position. If I read your comment correctly, you are acknowledging the same thing. However, whether she is right or wrong, she and Fischer are intelligent and qualified people. Their statements should be taken seriously and not seen as some sort of a blanket attack on the haredi community.

      By exaggerating her comments and, in general, by overreacting to issues like this, the draft, and other issues that impact the haredi community by calling names, threatening tax revolts, etc., spokesmen for the haredi community such as Mozes cause many of us, certainly myself included, to dispair of any kind of dialogue between the haredi community and the rest of the country. I understand why many haredim, seemingly including yourself, feel under attack, but I would think people within the haredi community might try to understand why the rest of us might resent the constant and very ugly rheteric from haredi MKs whenever our elected representatives attempt to change the status quo in a way that hurts perceived haredi interests.

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  7. The VAT argument is repeated by Charedim continuously and is absolute hogwash. Yes, the Charedim pay VAT like everyone else, but even there they pay less simply because they spend less because they have less money. The average Charedi family income is 5600 shekel a month. The fact that they have 8 kids is completely irrelevant. In addition a good part of the VAT that they pay is simply the government getting it's money back from the transfer payments that it gave them. If all you make is 5600 shekel a month then even if you spend every penny that comes out to 952 shekel in VAT. The Chiloni who is taking home more then double is spending most or all of it (~10000) and therefore paying more in VAT (1700). See my post http://jewishworker.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/its-all-about-money.html for an in-depth analysis.

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  8. The Tea Party is about less government subsidies, not more.

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  9. I sometimes find it amazing that orthodox Jews tend to support Rpublicans in the USA. Even the Israeli orthodox community always roots for the Republicans in the USA and hates the democrats. It is because of the "family values" things, the Dem support for homosexuals and whatnot.
    but it amazes me because it is the Dems who support more welfare and Repubs want less welfare, while the orthodox, especially in israel, who are massive consumers of welfare and other forms of government assistance.

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    1. Heh. That's because they believe they can work the system in the US, while the laws in Israel are crafted much more specifically (and often administered by hand).

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  10. After all this, my real question was never answered. how can a person avoid paying VAT or other purchase taxes?

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    1. Become a tourist.

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    2. Same way people can avoid paying income taxes. Conduct business in cash, off the books. Of coure, this requires the cooperation of both the seller/employer and the buyer/employee. Not exactly unheard of, and not all that difficult in a closed community where everyone knows each other.

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    3. even in a closed community, how would a shopkeeper let you pay cash for your milk, bread, laundry detergent, cheese, diapers, etc. and let you not pay VAT? he still has to pay vat to his supplier and he isnt going to just forgo it form the customer..

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    4. True. To do it completely would be completely impractical. So we're left with your question about how, and my question about what exactly they would be striking for. Rhetorical device, as "Jack" said.

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