Israel targets tax rises at low-use second homes

By Nathan Jeffay, March 22, 2012

Owning a second home in Israel looks set to become more expensive, after the government approved a plan to charge higher council tax on homes that are not in constant use.

On Sunday, the cabinet gave municipalities the green light to impose the increase, though it is not yet clear what the criteria for liability will be, or how much the extra tax will be. The decision was part of a broader package of legislation responding to the social protests of the summer.

Many people who own second homes are crying foul and saying that, in real terms, they already contribute more than others to the council since they use fewer services than most. "Most of the year I don't generate any refuse for collection, and I don't use any of the most expensive services like education, so this is really unfair," said Devora Baker, a Londoner who has a second home in Jerusalem.

But Stav Shafir, a leader of the social protests, said: "The contribution [by people who own second homes] does not make up for the fact that there are people with nowhere to live because of the homes they take up."

Last updated: 4:27pm, March 22 2012