Anyone wandering around the offices of tax lawyers these days will find the aforementioned with their hands very full. They are busy opening hundreds of companies for the self-employed who are trying to "plan their taxes" so as to avoid paying the new 60 percent tax on income over NIS 19,000 per month.
The government's new tax plan did not alter the 36 percent taxation rate imposed on companies that reinvest their profits in themselves. If the owner of a company wants to draw on the profits in the form of a dividend, he has to pay 25 percent on the balance (on 64 percent of the profits), which comes to 16 percent - making a total tax of 52 percent.
This means that the tax on the dividend is less than the tax on labor, so it is worthwhile for every self-employed person, whether an accountant, dentist, merchant or carpenter, to change his status from self-employed to company-owner, and thus pay less tax.
But that is not all, because when he sits down with his lawyer and "plans his taxes," more possibilities present themselves. He could, for example, borrow money from the company instead of taking a dividend. Then, when the new tax is canceled in a year-and-a-half from now, he can dismantle the company and will have to pay just 10 percent tax on the undisbursed profits. In other words, he would pay a total of 42.4 percent tax, which is certainly preferable to 60 percent.
But that still isn't everything, because he could take advantage of the low tax brackets and draw a salary of NIS 10,000 per month from the company; on such a sum, he would pay health tax and National Insurance Institute premiums, and end up paying even less than 42.4 percent on the total.
This means that the Finance Ministry, which is planning to get billions of additional shekels from the "wealthy" due to the cancellation of the ceiling on health tax and NII payments, will not get even one agora more. Some say it will even receive less.
So who will end up paying the high tax? The salaried employees who cannot become companies because their employers won't agree, or for whom the process is too complicated, or who don't know the law. And this is both pitiful and unjustified.
Another outcome from the increased tax will be the leaving of profits in companies, in an attempt to wait until the trouble passes, until taxes return to normal levels, whether in the wake of the conclusions of the Rabinovich Commission or the treasury's realization that raising taxes was a mistake.
Once it was possible to rely on the professionals at the treasury to raise their voices against the politicians. Once there was a director-general of the Finance Ministry named Aharon Fogel who used to shout "No way!" to more taxes. Once there was a finance minister named Yaakov Neeman who declared in no uncertain terms that taxes would not be raised. Once there was a finance minister named Moshe Nissim who even lowered taxes.
But now populism reigns, and treasury Director-General Ohad Marani and Accountant General Nir Gilad toe the line according to Finance Minister Silvan Shalom and have forgotten all that they have learned.
Today it is very popular to "screw" the rich, to levy more and more taxes on them. But who are these rich people? They are precisely that important group of self-employed and salaried employees who are essential to any economy. They are the managers, the entrepreneurs, the computer personnel and the key individuals in every company. They are the ones who carry the economy on their shoulders - and if their tax burden is made unreasonably high, some of them will transfer their businesses abroad. Some will stop working so hard and others will take less initiative and fewer risks, while others will not create new jobs because it won't be worth their while.
So in another year, when tax revenues are down, the economy is in reverse, businesses register negative growth and unemployment is rising, will anyone remember that it all resulted from the unreasonable increase of the tax burden on the terrible rich?
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