Ministers mull switching off TV tax

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to discuss a proposal to do away with the hated television tax. The proposal, submitted by MK Ahmed Tibi ‏(UAL-Ta’al‏), states that as people can easily watch television online and also use their TVs for playing movies, thus most people don’t use their TVs for watching public broadcasts anymore. The intent of the television tax − notorious for the aggressive collection tactics used to enforce it − is to fund public television. The cabinet objected to similar proposals raised in the past. Another proposal, drafted by MK Amnon Cohen ‏(Shas‏) and due to be brought before ministers today, calls for doing away with VAT on basic foodstuffs, including bread, milk, salt, oil, sugar, rice, fish and poultry. The cabinet is expected to object to this as well. ‏(Zvi Zrahiya‏)

Proposed tax on second-time homeowners buying new homes may be dropped

The Finance Ministry may be forced to drop a plan that would impose a minimum purchase tax of 3.5% on people who have owned a home in the past and are buying a new home. The proposed tax, which has broad opposition in the Knesset Finance Committee, could be reduced to 1% or done away with entirely. The tax, part of the Economic Arrangements Bill approved by the cabinet, was touted as a way to raise state revenues by NIS 4 billion a year. ‏(Zvi Zrahiya‏)

Comptroller reviewing decision to drop grants to first-time homebuyers in periphery

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira will be running an expedited review of the cabinet’s decision to do away with grants to first-time homebuyers in the periphery. The investigation, at the behest of MK Itzik Shmuli ‏(Labor‏), is the latest source of pressure on the cabinet over its decision. Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel had asked Finance Minister Yair Lapid to consider deferring the cancellation of the grant program by three months. The program, which gave first-time homebuyers hundreds of thousands of shekels in mortgage assistance in exchange for buying homes in peripheral towns deemed national preference zones, ended on July 1. ‏(Nimrod Bousso and Zvi Zrahiya‏)

Leumi suing Ilan Ben-Dov for NIS 88 million

Bank Leumi is suing Ilan Ben-Dov for NIS 88 million due to a personal guarantee the businessman gave the bank to secure a loan for Tau Tsuot. Tau, a publicly held company controlled by Ben-Dov, is currently in liquidation proceedings and owes Leumi between NIS 150 million and NIS 160 million. The suit was filed Thursday in the Tel Aviv District Court. Leumi and other banks have come under fire for not redeeming personal guarantees issued by some of the country’s biggest businessmen. Since 2007, Leumi has recouped NIS 1.5 billion from Ben-Dov and Tau. The company still owes more than NIS 300 million to its bondholders. ‏(Michael Rochvarger and Shelly Appelberg‏)