State Wants Court to Revisit Ruling on Third-Apartment Tax

YERUSHALAYIM -

The state of Israel has asked the High Court to reconsider a recent ruling which struck down a law taxing owners of three apartments on the grounds that passage through the Knesset had been technically faulty, Globes reported on Monday.

The state petition calls into question the judiciary’s authority to intervene in matters which are essentially the province of the legislative branch of government, and requests an augmented panel of judges to preside over a second hearing.

The court nullified the tax on August 6, sending it back to the Knesset Finance Committee to do it right. The court upheld complaints from opposition MKs who said that parliamentary procedure had been violated and they were not given sufficient time to study the proposal before voting was held.

Justice Noam Sohlberg said, “There was no alternative but to decide that the legislation process of the multiple apartments tax was defective at the very roots of the procedure.”

It was regarded as a major blow to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s program to bring down housing prices through a tax that would encourage real estate investors to put properties on the market, increasing supply.

While the state in its petition this week acknowledged defects in the process which produced the law, and that Knesset procedures in general need refining, nevertheless it maintains that the High Court should not intervene in legislative matters on procedural grounds except in rare or exceptional instances. This, it said, does not qualify as such.

The state did agree that if the law is reinstated after another hearing, the new ruling will apply only to the future, and will not apply to the tax on a third housing unit that was struck down.