Israel's Finance Ministry seeks to rescind tax breaks for foreign journalists
The addition to state revenues from the proposed changes is expected to be minimal.
The Finance Ministry intends to rescind income tax breaks for foreign journalists stationed in Israel, say senior political figures who asked to remain anonymous.
The treasury has tried to withdraw the special conditions for foreign athletes as well as for journalists before. But the Economic Arrangements bill (traditionally enacted together with the budget each year), the Finance Ministry confined its proposal to canceling breaks only for the foreign journalists.
For their first three years in Israel, foreign journalists can claim the rent on their residence here, as well as expenses for meals and lodging, as tax deductions, and are charged a flat 25 percent tax on liable income.
According to both a study by the Knesset Research and Information Center and a position paper issued by the Foreign Press Association in Israel, the addition to state revenues from the proposed changes would be minimal.
The FPA argued that it could lead foreign news networks to reduce their footprints in Israel, which could means a loss of Israeli jobs and revenue from goods and services. It also warned that it could hurt Israel's image abroad.
The sources judged the likelihood of the breaks being cancelled as high, in part due to the fact that the Government Press Office has been director-less since Oren Helman left the post for a position at the Israel Electric Corp. six months ago. In his stint at the GPO Helman fought, successfully according to some media industry figures, against the treasury proposals.
The Finance Ministry declined to comment.