Israelis disapprove of tax policy, but rich disapprove less, poll says
74% reportedly disapprove and only 20.5% approve of the way the government handles their taxes.
Here's some news that will come as no surprise: Most Israelis do not like the government's tax policies.
But in case you're wondering what percentage are unhappy with these policies, the Israel Democracy Institute has an answer. Some 74% reportedly disapprove and only 20.5% approve of the way the government handles their taxes, according to a survey conducted ahead of the institute's annual Caesarea conference on economic policy, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
Worse still, only 0.8% said they were "very satisfied" with tax policy. The other 18.7% say they were simply "satisfied." Among those who are unhappy, a remarkable 31% said they are not at all satisfied, versus 43.3% who are more moderately disapproving.
According to the survey, the richest are the most satisfied with tax policy. Among those with an income less than the national average, only 14.8% expressed approval. Among those with an average income, the rate of approval rose to 22.7%. Those with above-average incomes were happiest of all, with 24% expressing support.
Yarom Ariav, the former director general of the Finance Ministry and head of this year's conference, offered an explanation for the results.
"People don't believe that tax policy in Israel is equal. There are too many indirect taxes and fewer direct taxes. If you are talking about income equality, the tax system doesn't do the work," he said.
Here's another finding that isn't likely to surprise: The survey found that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is regarded as the most influential person in the economy, with almost half of respondents identifying him as such.
More shocking is that Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel, comes in only at a distant second, with 21% citing him as the most powerful economic figure. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz ranks third, with slightly less than 15%.
"The prime minister has portrayed himself as a kind of super-minister of economy," said Ariav. "Historically, the prime minister has dealt more with foreign policy and defense, while the finance minister was the dominant figure in the economy and society. Netanyahu presents himself differently, for better or for worse."
On one hand, it's an asset to the prime minister, Ariav said, as Israel's economy has withstood the worst of the global financial crisis. On the other, he notes that parts of Netanyahu's economic policy have contributed to widening social gaps and to the higher cost of living.
The survey also found a degree of pessimism among the public about the Israel's economy. Respondents were split between those who thought their personal economic circumstances would not change in the coming years (52% ) and those who expected a change (48% ). Among the latter, 70% said the change would be for the worse.
The older the respondent the more likely they expected worsening conditions. Ariav said this likely reflected the concerns by people approaching pension age that their savings may not be adequate to ensure their current standard of living.
"What balances that out is the [life] experience of older people, which teaches them there are ups and downs," he said.