The Treasure of the Treasury

Yehuda Nasradishi, the Israel Tax Authority tax commissioner, informed Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz recently that he would be retiring on April 30, 2011, when he completed four years as commissioner.

The Israel Tax Authority is the largest and most important branch of the Finance Ministry. The authority is responsible for collecting all the taxes in Israel: both direct taxes such as income tax and real estate taxes, and indirect taxes such as VAT and customs.

Some 5,300 people work for the Tax Authority. Yehuda Nasradishi was the tax commissioner for the past four years.

Recently Nasradishi informed Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz he would be retiring on April 30, 2011, when he completed four years as commissioner.

Nasradishi has worked for the Income Tax Authority and its successor, the Tax Authority, since he was released from the army 46 years ago. Steinitz has yet to establish a search committee to find the next commissioner. The minister may be looking for someone from outside the authority, but it is unlikely he will find someone.

If there is no external candidate, the Tax Authority will have three internal ones: Dr. Haim Gabay, the senior deputy commissioner for assessment and audit; Avi Arditi, the senior deputy commissioner for investigations and intelligence; and Doron Arbely, the head of customs.

Total tax revenues reached NIS 195.4 billion in 2010, an all-time high, and NIS 12.3 billion higher than the Knesset and government's targets.

Taxes are the most important source of revenue for the state, and the amount they take in sets the level of government spending. When tax revenues are higher, the state budget is higher.

The Tax Authority was established by a cabinet decision on March 15, 2003, combining the two existing tax divisions in the treasury at the time: Income tax and real estate with customs and value added tax.

Two people were behind the decision at the time, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Customs and VAT division head Eitan Rub. Rub was interested in heading the newly formed combined authority.

The reason behind the unification was to combine the management of tax collection under a single czar, stated the cabinet decision.

The rationale was to establish a stronger, more modern and efficient unit to properly collect taxes due the state.

The unification went into effect on September 1, 2004. In addition to the two tax divisions, the authority also includes its own computer unit, Sha'am, the Mechanized Processing Unit.