Expert: Protesting gas tax is hypocrisy
The richer you are, the more gas you use. Therefore, the tax narrows socioeconomic gaps, says Professor Omer Moav.
Politicians protesting against gasoline taxes are hypocritical because the tax is progressive. The richer you are, the more gas you use. Therefore, the tax narrows socioeconomic gaps, said Prof. Omer Moav, an expert in income inequality from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's economics department.
During the summer protests, he warned protest leaders that demanding more spending on education and health would increase the tax burden on the middle class. "You want public housing? Say what should be taxed," he said.
It is "dangerous" to reduce value-added tax on gasoline, he says. "The moment you start with differential VAT, you'll see MKs spending half their time discussing VAT cuts on various products."
Moav favors a congestion charge instead of the excise tax. "If you live in an outlying area where public transport is not as convenient, you depend more on your car and the roads are empty.
Let drivers on congested roads in the center of the country pay more taxes." Gas taxes are also preferable to the current high taxes on new cars, which lead people to drive older, unsafe, polluting vehicles, he said.
Still, Moav said he is "sympathetic" to criticism of the tax. The tax burden on Israel's middle and upper-middle classes is among the highest in the West, he said, but Israelis get little in return, because the money goes to groups with pull: the defense establishment, the strong unions, the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers.