Bill to Grant PM Tax Exemptions Advanced in Knesset

YERUSHALAYIM -
Likud MK Miki Zohar. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A bill to provide tax exemptions for payments and services provided to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and for work-related expenses incurred in his private residence in Caesarea, moved forward in the Knesset on Wednesday, according to Ynet.

The bill was transferred to the Finance Committee after a vote of 50 to 38, preparatory to discussion and voting within the next two weeks.

It would exempt the prime minister from paying taxes on payments, services and benefits provided by the State Treasury which are in the line of his carrying out the duties of his office. The president of the state of Israel already receives such exemptions.

If the measure passes in its present form, approximately NIS 8,000 shekels would effectively be added to PM Netanyahu’s net monthly income, about NIS 3,000 for his car and NIS 5,000 on his residential expenses.

MK Miki Zohar (Likud), who introduced the bill, claimed in the plenum that he was moved to draft it after learning that the prime minister makes a monthly salary of NIS 13,000 ($3,600), far below that of the CEO of any large corporation.

“Is it right or reasonable that the prime minister of Israel should earn NIS 13,000? This is, first and foremost, a moral question, with no connection to the identity of the prime minister. No one in this country wants the prime minister to earn a salary that does not respect the post or the status,” Zohar said.

“I am not trying to help the prime minister, but rather to help the state to be fair toward its prime minister,” Zohar argued. “In one day when the prime minister was giving lectures around the world he could earn a very high sum of money, but he doesn’t do that because all his work goes into improving the state. Is it right that he is also asked to pay for all expenses incurred at his private residence?”

The justice of the proposed tax break escaped Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy, who voted against it, and denounced it as “chutzpah.”

“It’s a loss of values. It is not relevant whether the prime minister is a well-off or poor man. We are talking about a fundamental point. To come and ask that the State Treasury participates in his Caesarea villa? For the water in his villa swimming pool? And for the ongoing maintenance of his private home? Have you gone crazy?” Levy wanted to know.

“You are dipping your hand into the public coffers. Have you lost all sense of shame? I, as a member of the public, should not have to maintain a villa in Caesarea,” he said.