'We've chosen to stand with young couples'

Moshe Kahlon refuses to back off tax for 3rd apartments; 'Coalition members will have to choose between the top percentile and the young.'

Shlomo Pyutrokowski ,

Moshe Kahlon
Moshe Kahlon
Flash 90

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has doubled down on his proposal to impose a tax on a third apartment purchased by the same person.

Writing on his Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, Kahlon made clear that he won't back off of the proposal despite mounting opposition from other parties in the coalition.

"The members of the coalition will have to decide whether they support a decision that helps young couples and the middle class or Yair Lapid, who is protecting the top tenth of a percent," the Finance Minister writes.

"The purpose of the plan is to free up apartments for sale [by lowering the incentive for the acquisition of multiple apartments by one person] and increasing the supply," Kahlon explained. "We've chosen whom we support. We stand with the young couples."

Over the past week, coalition members have ramped up the rhetoric attacking the third apartment plan and other parts of Kahlon's policy.

Among the most strident opponents of the plan is MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), head of the Knesset Finance Committee, who explained his opposition to the plan in a speech at a conference in Eilat.

"The third apartment taxation law won't pass through the Finance Committee," Gafni declared, "raising the tax on buying apartments hasn't lowered housing prices, and neither will this. Instead of dealing with the source of the problem, like stopping the state's direct wheeling and dealing with so much land and thus actually increasing the supply [of available land for construction], they're messing about in the wrong places."

Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked for his opinion on the matter in interviews he gave over the weekend but avoided giving a direct answer.

"I can't answer that. I own a third apartment, so I have a conflict of interests. I'll check it out with the relevant bodies," the Prime Minister said. When this invited the obvious follow-up question about whether that means that any and every cabinet member who owns three apartments won't be able to vote on the proposal, Netanyahu evaded it again, saying "at least I'm telling you what I have. I don't know which ministers have three apartments and which don't."

People who can afford it buy apartments for future use by their children, but most third apartments are bought for purely financial reasons, as they are just about the only no-risk investment in Israel that brings in an income and goes up in value.