For years, Israelis who had television sets that they used strictly for watching videos or DVDs were required to pay the dreaded “television tax” - a payment of about NIS 500 per year that goes to fund the Israel Broadcasting Authority. The IBA strictly enforced this rule, ignoring pleas from TV owners who were not connected to any television service that they did not use the IBA's services, nor watch TV at all.
With the advent of digital television broadcasts in Israel, the only way to watch TV is with a connection to a “box” - either one from cable provider HOT, satellite provider YES, or with a digital receiver capable of receiving the free to air broadcasts on channels 1, 2, 10, 23, 33, and 99.
In a settlement of a major class action lawsuit, the IBA has agreed to stop billing TV set owners who do not use one of these external boxes to watch television. The settlement has been certified by the Jerusalem District Court.
While digital broadcasts began in June 2011 – the same time the lawsuit was filed – Israelis who paid the TV tax in 2011 and 2012 even though they weren't “connected” will not be getting a refund; the settlement applies from July 2013 and on.
In order to be eligible for an exemption, households will need to fill out a form that the IBA must approve. And, an IBA spokesperson said, those who ask for the exemption may be visited by an inspector – to ensure that they are not trying to “cheat” on their TV watching.