Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Knesset passes bill to eliminate betterment tax

"I loudly reiterate - the threat of earthquakes is at our doorstep now. We must act as soon as possible," said Minister of Interior Eli Yishai yesterday, after the Knesset passed the first reading of a bill to renew the exemption from betterment tax on retrofitting of buildings in line with National Outline Plan 38 for reinforcing structures against earthquakes. Yishai submitted the bill on Sunday.

The bill also upgrades National Outline Plan 38 from a directive, which has to be periodically renewed, to a law. The directive for National Outline Plan 38 expired in November 2010. Yishai added, "From the Knesset dais, I call on Israeli citizens who live in old building to act expeditiously to retrofit these buildings. I will seek easements on fees and taxes for people who retrofit their homes against earthquakes. The warning signs in the form of small earthquakes have already been felt. The Ministry of Interior will do what it can to lift the barriers against retrofitting buildings against earthquakes. It is not worthwhile waiting for a commission of inquiry about protecting the home front against earthquakes. We should act immediately to retrofit buildings now."

In 2007, the Knesset passed the Planning and Building Law Encouragement for Strengthening Structures Against Earthquakes (Directive) (5767-2007). The law cancels the betterment tax for retrofitting carried out as part of National Outline Plan 38. The amendment related to the exemption from the betterment tax expired in November. The new law will reduce the betterment tax for retrofitting buildings by 90%. The Knesset's approval of the bill came after months of pleading by developers about the expiry of the exemption and worries about its renewal.

Source Globes

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