Finance Ministry Finds 3 Billion Shekels in 24 hours

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli Finance Ministry officials demonstrated this week that they know how to get their hands on big money when they need to — and in a hurry too.

Ministry officials found 3 billion shekels within 24 hours tucked away in the 2013-14 budget, after running into Knesset opposition to schemes for raising state revenues by raising income taxes and limiting the exemption on pension deposits, against Globes reported.

The first discovery was an amendment allowing the Ministry of Finance to take money  held by the Custodian General. On Monday, the Finance Committee approved an amendment to the Custodian General Law, allowing the release of money of people who cannot be located for fiscal purposes. Until now, such accounts were held by the Custodian General for 15 years. That will raise 1 billion a year.

The second involved cancellation of the tax exemption by foreign investors on capital gains from natural resources, including oil and gas securities.

And on Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance closed a loophole exempting foreign residents from capital gains taxes on natural resources found on land they own and income-producing properties, such as gas stations or hotels. The Finance Committee is expected to approve the measure, also good for about a billion.

In the past couple of weeks, Knesset committees have refused to rubber-stamp a series of  Ministry of Finance proposals. The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee rejected a proposed change in the regulation of pension deposits, which was to raise NIS 1.2 billion. The Finance Committee rejected the 1.5% across the board income tax hike.