Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli was sentenced on Sunday to nine months of community service while her mother was sentenced to 16 months in prison, after the two pleaded guilty to tax evasion earlier this year.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court ruling upheld the sentence set forth in the plea agreement reached between Refaeli and her parents, Tzipi and Rafi, with the prosecution on allegations of tax evasion and false tax reporting. Tzipi will go to jail on September 21, and Bar will report on the same day for service work.
The judge noted that she considered the two's contribution to society, Tzipi's medical condition, Bar being the mother of three children, and the fact that in many cases tax offenders have no criminal record. "I have concluded that this is an overall punishment which is reasonable," said the judge.
The plea agreement, which is aimed at settling all criminal and civil claims involving the supermodel’s taxes, will require the family to pay any outstanding taxes that the tax authorities determine are due, in addition to a 5 million shekel ($1.4 million) fine. Bar Refaeli will also withdraw the tax appeals that she currently has pending before the Israeli Supreme Court and the Tel Aviv District Court for the years 2009 through 2012.
About a year and a half ago, the prosecutor’s office informed Refaeli and her parents that it was considering filing criminal charges against them, subject to a preindictment hearing, on suspicion of providing false information to the tax assessor and of concealing information to minimize the model’s ties to Israel, in an effort to avoid paying Israeli taxes.
According to the indictment filed on Tuesday, Tzipi Refaeli is charged in part with providing false information and failure to report income to avoid paying taxes or to aid someone else in evading tax. Bar Refaeli is charged providing incorrect information without legal justification.
At issue in one of the tax appeals that Bar Refaeli filed was the question of which country was the center of her life for tax purposes at a time when she was in a relationship with American actor Leonardo DiCaprio. She claimed that the center of her life at the time was the United States, but was ordered in April of last year to pay 8 million shekels in tax for the years 2009 and 2010 based on a finding that she was a resident of Israel during that period.
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Under Israeli law, residency for tax purposes is determined first and foremost by whether the person spends most of the year in Israel. But the law recognizes other factors that may take precedence, such as where the person’s family lives and where he or she is employed.