Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Tammuz 5764 - June 23, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Betzedek Paves the Way for Yeshivos Gedolos to Receive Local Tax Discounts
By Betzalel Kahn

Yeshivos gedolos will be eligible for discounts on local taxes following extensive efforts by Betzedek.

Yeshivas used to receive local tax breaks either based on Paragraph 4 of the city tax order, which classifies them as "educational institutions" or based on Paragraph 5, which classifies them as "voluntary institutions."

Following a High Court appeal, the Interior Ministry set 13 criteria for Paragraph 5, including some that appeared to make yeshivas ineligible for the discounts if talmidim enrolled there resided in a different local authority or outside the country.

The authority to grant recognition as an "educational institution" was vested solely in the Interior Ministry's district administrator, while local authorities played no role in making the decision. At the beginning of the year the Interior Ministry's legal advisor even told district administrators that regarding local tax discounts the term "educational institution" applied only to institutions with students age 18 and under.

As a result of this directive hundreds of yeshivos gedolos were required to pay the full amount in local taxes for 2004. Some authorities even required an additional payment for 2003 as well. These enormous sums were enough to pose a threat to the Torah world. A few local authorities have already sent out warnings water to yeshivas with outstanding debts would be disconnected.

Betzedek, run by Rabbi Attorney Mordechai Green, contacted the Interior Ministry's district administrators and asked to see the criteria for receiving the status "educational institution," which did indeed indicate only institutions with students 18 and under were eligible.

The organization then informed the Interior Ministry of the seriousness of the faulty interpretation and even prepared to submit a High Court appeal unless it honored demands to continue granting the discount to all yeshivas--regardless of the age of the students enrolled. Green claimed the Interior Ministry's policy discriminated against Torah institutions and was inconsistent with the Foundation Laws and High Court rulings.

Following an exchange of letters, the Interior Ministry's legal department notified Betzedek that the ministry had agreed determining "educational institution" status would be left to the local authority rather than the Interior Ministry district administrator.

By demonstrating that this interpretation was established by a High Court decision two years ago Betzedek paved the way for resuming the local tax breaks given to all yeshivas in the past.

All yeshivas should verify they have been recognized as an "educational institution" by the respective municipality or local authority, and if not the decision can be appealed in court.


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