Outrage as TV Tax Man Reaches 'Beyond the Grave' for Money
Was it an example of bureaucracy run amok, or something more nefarious? Parents whose sons have died in battle fighting to defend Israel were aghast to find the tax man - in the form of the Israel Broadcast Authority - demanding its due from the children they lost, as they received bills for the infamous TV tax addressed to the sons who have passed.
The dreaded “television tax” is a payment of about NIS 500 per year that goes to fund the Israel Broadcasting Authority, ostensibly to make up for the fact that, as a public broadcaster, the IBA's Channel One does not sell advertising time. Many Israelis, especially those on the right, have criticized the IBA for its left-leaning agenda, both in news and entertainment broadcasts. Recently, for example, an ad for a new parody program had rightwing Israelis and MKs up in arms, when it connected the Israeli right in general with Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995, and with Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Arabs at the Machpelah Cave in 1994.
According to the law, any Israeli with a television set is supposed to pay the TV tax, even if they never watch Channel One. Because they feel the IBA does not represent them, many Israelis do not pay the TV tax, which prompts the IBA to launch occasional campaigns to persuade recalcitrant TV owners to pay up. The campaigns usually consist of a series of letters, which begin with a “friendly” reminder, and end with a threatened lawsuit from IBA lawyers.
On Thursday, Yisrael Hayom reported that the IBA, which launched its most recent collection campaign in August, had sent out letters with varying “threat levels” to IDF soldiers who had been killed in the line of duty. One, for example, was addressed to Yair Nevenzal z”l, who was killed in a terror attack in 2001. The letter was sent to Nevenzal's home, to the horror of his parents.
In response, Nevenzal's father, Menachem, sent a letter of complaint to Communications Minister Gilad Erdan. “On my last visit to my son's resting place at a military cemetery, I did not notice that a television set had been installed atop his grave,” he wrote.
Apparently, Erdan called the relevant IBA officials onto the carpet, because the Authority quickly sent out letters of apology to the affected families. In a statement, the IBA said that “we have apologized to the families, and we also assured them that we would take every step to ensure that this regrettable error does not repeat itself.”