CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed new tax legislation Tuesday aimed at bolstering the North American aliyah (immigration to Israel).
The new bill repeals tax legislation passed in 2003, which required new immigrants to declare earnings and assets from their countries of origin -- or any other foreign holdings -- to the Israeli tax authorities upon making aliyah.
In some instances, new immigrants paid double taxes, both in Israel and abroad.
"The theory is that people, even if they have dealings outside of Israel, will slowly begin to transfer their businesses here," said Danny Oberman, executive vice president of Israel operations for Nefesh b'Nefesh, the aliyah organization that helps North American Jews immigrate successfully.
"There were various loopholes and some people did not always report everything," he said. "However, the new law now makes it very black and white in favor of new immigrants," Oberman said.
The new legislation also affects Israelis who left the country for better opportunities abroad.
"There are millions of Israelis living abroad who are too scared to come back here because they think the government will take their wealth away," Kadima MK (member of Knesset) Shlomo Mula said, when presenting the bill for its final reading.
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry has been working for the past year to encourage Israeli expatriates to come home. The new bill will help their efforts.
According to ministry statistics, 14,000 Israelis living abroad are considering moving back to the country; 6,500 have already done so.
Absorption Ministry officials hope that more than 10,000 citizens will return to Israel before the end of the year.
Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post