Vehicle Sales Slumped Last Year, Tax Authority Says

Eilat’s car port. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

A total of 218,000 new vehicles were imported into Israel in 2017, the Tax Authority said in a report summing up data about imports for the year, which was only issued in recent days. That figure was 37.3-percent lower than in 2016, but according to officials the numbers for 2016 were artificially high, as many people bought vehicles in December 2016 to avoid taxes on smaller vehicles that went into effect at the beginning of 2017.

However, when viewed together, 2016 and 2017 displayed a significant increase in vehicle imports, especially of privately owned vehicles, over the year before. This was indicated by the amount of money the Tax Authority took in during both periods, it said; in the latter period, tax receipts from car imports amounted to NIS 11.4 billion, compared to NIS 9.7 billion in the earlier period.

Twenty percent of all vehicles in Israel changed hands in 2017 – leading the Authority to deduce that the average Israeli held onto their vehicle for 5.6 years on average. Prices for new vehicles have fallen somewhat in recent years, due to more favorable exchange rates and lower taxes, leading to more new car sales – and a plummeting in the value of used cars, of which there is a surfeit of availability. Since 2008, the price of used cars has fallen on average by 33.7 percent, the Authority said.