Sderot residents are finally making headway in their fight to get fair compensation and just treatment from the Israel Tax Authority.
At the end of July, Sderot Media Center representatives and several Sderot residents met with four Knesset members to air their grievances against the ITA. Among these many grievances were under-compensation for damages, inefficient methods of damage evaluation and even disrespectful treatment of the victims.
MK Dr. Marina Solodkin wrote a letter to Finance Minister Ronie Bar-On, Sunday, requesting that he oversee a review of the ITA’s current practices and find ways by which the ITA could simplify the compensation process and allow for Sderot residents to get full compensation for their losses. “It’s very nice of her to write this letter,” Shula Sasson said. “I told a lot of people in the government and the media about this, but none of them did a thing. For [MK Solodkin] to do this, it feels like somebody really cares about me as a person.”
21st September, 2008 â€â€
Minister Ronie Bar – On
Ministry of Finance
Subject: Compensation Payments to Residents of Sderot for Damaged Businesses and Residential Buildings
I write to you after a meeting with representatives from Sderot and The Sderot Media Center, which took place in my office at the Knesset. At the meeting, we discussed the issue of compensation payments to the residents of Sderot whose homes and businesses have been damaged by missiles fired from the Gaza Strip, as well as problems which arise from the compensation currently paid.
Those who wish to claim financial compensation for damage they have suffered must choose one of three claim options. These options are:
A: “Option Red,”
B:“Option Green One – Cycles’ Option,”
C: “Option Green Two – Current Expenses’ Option.”
Once a claimant chooses one option, his choice is final. He cannot change his mind if he later finds that his chosen option grants him much less money than another option would have, and even if his compensation does the damage inflicted on his property.
MK Dr. Marina Solodkin
The problems which arise from the existing arrangements are:
1. A civilian whose business has been hit by a rocket will find it hard to understand which option is best for him or her unless he hires a lawyer, an accountant, or a tax consultant to advise him. There is nobody whose job it is to explain the differences between the three options to ordinary people, or that helps them choose that which is best for them.
2. Calculating the sums to be claimed is very complicated in both of the Green Options, and the Red Option’s calculation deals only with direct damages, without considering indirect damages. There are therefore many cases in which business owners are unable to receive compensation equal to the amount of damage the rocket actually caused them.
3. Property tax appraisers come to collect information about property damage soon after the rocket falls. It is hard for an ordinary civilian to choose the best option for him/herself, and/or to provide all the relevant information in order to receive full compensation so quickly. He might discover some of the damage only several days after the explosion, but if the appraiser has already submitted his report, the claimant can receive no compensation for subsequently discovered damage.
In cases of a damaged residential building, the existing arrangements allow compensation only for direct damage to the building. There is no compensation for indirect damage.
Considering all of these issues, I ask you to instruct the authorized persons at the Ministry of Finance to examine the existing process to claim compensation in order to:
– Simplify as much as possible the compensation process for businesses that were damaged by missile fire,
-Provide the citizens with all relevant information and directions to help them choose the best possible option for their own needs.
– Allow people to submit complementary reports, or appeals against low compensation, if they find additional damage after the appraiser has submitted his report.
– Allow compensation for both direct and indirect damage, in cases of residential buildings.
I will be grateful for your quick and positive attention,
MK Dr. Marina Solodkin