My husband had a similar experience and ended up paying the huge tax. We couldn’t get around it.
He had a television for about a year and didn’t use it thereafter (either it broke or he moved and didn’t take it with him). Four years later, he receives a note from the Tax Authority that he owes thousands of NIS in back taxes, and moreover, a hefty fine almost equaling the tax itself for not having paid when he was never billed and didn’t know he had to.
What’s more, because everything is done so far after the fact, you never actually know if you’re in the clear. And worse, there’s no way to defend yourself against wrongful charges that drain your bank account.
Since moving to Israel, I have a much clearer understanding of how one goes from middle class to poor. It’s all too apparent.
Maya’s story inspired my husband to visit the authorities in Tel Aviv on Friday morning. He waited only half an hour before seeing a clerk, who quizzed him about why we don’t have a TV. “Our old one broke and we decided not to get a new one.” She was interested in whether we had ideological reasons: “On principle? Because you’re religious? Maybe you recently became religious? (chazartem biteshuva)?” My husband asked why it mattered. “How do we know,” she responded, “that you won’t wake up tomorrow morning and decide to buy a new one?”
Finally she had my husband write and sign a document stating that we had notified them several years ago about our television-less state. She also asked whether we had a television card for our computer (we don’t) and informed him that we wouldn’t get any more notices.
When my husband asked whether they would be sending an inspector she told him, “We have our ways of finding out [whether you have a TV].”
I think his visit was a waste of time, and we will get more letters in 2010.
But if a law is archaic (since the authority accepts paid “service announcements”), widely ignored, difficult to enforce, encourages people to lie, and requires spying on people and threatening repossession, maybe someone ought to rethink the whole thing.
Photo Credit: Brandon King