Foreign Residents Can Now Apply for Israel’s Corona Grant

YERUSHALAYIM -

Until now, foreign residents who reside permanently in Israel and work privately could not apply for the state’s coronavirus grant, even though vis-à-vis the Tax Authority, they pay taxes just like other citizens. Now, after a request from Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and committee member Rabbi Yanon Azoulai (Shas), the Tax Authority has enabled the application system to receive requests from foreign contractors as well.

As noted, people without an Israeli identity card had no way to submit requests for the grant to independent contractors, since the online application system requires entering an identity number, and does not accept the tax file number or passport number. This, even though these workers are recognized by the Tax Authority, pay taxes and receive eligibility points as do all citizens.

Thanks to the request of Rabbi Gafni and Rabbi Azoulai, the Tax Authority invites such residents to receive a code at their offices and submit a coronavirus grant request before July 15.

Meanwhile, during Tuesday’s meeting of the State Control Committee to examine the assistance and bureaucratic relief for businesses during the coronavirus crisis, Committee Chairman MK Ofer Shelach (Yesh Atid-Telem) said “less than 50% of the tens of billions that were earmarked for businesses and unemployed individuals have actually reached them. This is a bureaucratic approach that is not suitable for these times.”

Shelach said the main problem in getting the aid to its destination is the government’s decisions, which he called “contradictory, incoherent and not transparent.” This approach, he said, “has yet to internalize the magnitude of the crisis and creates confusion, perhaps on purpose.

“Perhaps it is time to adopt some of the ’emergency’ methods, also to make it easier for the businesses on the day after,” said Shelach.

Travel agent Edan Zusman told the committee “by the end of next year I’ll be out of a job. Who will help me? I received NIS 2,300 in aid. I have massive overdrafts. I’m selling personal items because we have no money. The parents are helping us fill the refrigerator. I’ve been waiting six months for the money.”

Avner Spector, CEO of a medical technology company, said “in the United States I was given a three-page form, and within 24 hours we received confirmation that it had been processed, and within a week (we received the loan). In Israel, until now, I’ve received zilch. The state-guaranteed loan is one big bluff.”

On the other hand, Amir Dahan, head of the Tax Authority’s Compensation Department, said 90% of the 89,000 compensation claims have been handled, with the payment made up to a week, on average, from the day the request is submitted.

Darya Podshivalov, Coordinator of Economic Offices in the Accountant General’s Office in the Finance Ministry, said the banks are handling requests for state-guaranteed loans faster, and two weeks ago a special track was opened for at-risk industries that have not received assistance through the regular track. She said that in this track, the state guarantees 60% of the loan, which is higher than the state guarantee in the regular track.