Warning for Yerushalayim Tourists

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israel-tax-authority-smallOn Sunday, the sign, pictured at left (click on it to magnify), appeared in the Meah Shearim and Geulah neighborhoods. The sign is a clear warning to landlords that they should be aware of a sting operation currently being carried out by the Israeli Tax Authority in their neighborhoods. With these neighborhoods serving as a hub for tourists, many Israeli residents, rent out rooms and apartments with amenities that cater to visitors. Payment is provided in cash, allowing the owners a lucrative source of income that often goes unreported. Popularity of these rentals have grown over the years and it appears of if the Israeli Tax Authority would now like their legal fair share.

Although the message is clearly a warning to landlords so they can overt heavy fines and taxes, it should be a warning for tourists as well. Under Israeli law, a tourist renting such rooms not only violates short-term rental laws, but is also subject to heavy fines and even jail time for failing to pay occupancy tax.

“One thing should be very clear,” a local askan told Matzav.com Israel. “If the landlord would like to take a chance of getting caught, this is his own prerogative. If he wants to risk ruining a tourist’s vacation, it is our responsibility to inform the tourists. With that in mind, if you are visiting Israel and made plans to lodge with such an arrangement, you should think twice before subjecting yourself to a very unpleasant and costly situation.”

{Matzav.com Israel News Bureau}


  1. I am not writing this to condone tax evasion in any way. However, this is an example of the short-sightedness of the tax authority and of the Israeli government in general. They need to look at the overall generation of revenue on account of these tourists visiting their country. If, as a result of this operation, fewer tourists will visit the country due to the prohibitive costs of Israeli hotels. they will have lost out. Another example of their stupidity is their trying to save less than a hundred dollars a month for foreign yeshiva students. By doing this, they are again cutting off their nose to spite their face. The revenue generated to the economy as a result of these foreign students is much greater than the few dollars that they are trying to save.

  2. “allowing the owners a lucrative source of income that often goes unreported”, & “tourist renting such rooms not only violates short-term rental laws”

    Thanks for the info, the first part is a known fact yet the second is HEFTY and unknown. Will be looking for other options then!!!

  3. Stupid laws made by stupid people for stupid reasons. And who loses? The entire country, because fewer tourists will come to visit. Are Mechutanim apartments officially illegal in E”Y?

  4. #1, I seriously doubt that a tax which exists all over the world will deter tourist from coming to Israel just as I doubt that that the savings in ending the subsidy will be counter-productive.
    In the case of the former, if this is so landlords will absorb the tax by including it in their rent. A smaller profit is obviously better thn no profit. This is the way the free enterprise system works. In the case of the latter, the motivation is not economic and in any case if yeshivot will be able to grant undergrad degrees (as some also do) the cost will still be far less than a BA in the US.

  5. #1-
    I don’t get you , stealing is stealing.
    Many if not most of us did not know of this
    law, and now that we know we will continue to travel to Israel and pay the proper tax.
    With people looking to game the system keep your nose.


  6. For all of you out there who are nervous, Boruch Hashem there are companies out there who do everything in a legitimate fashion.One of those is Rentals of Distinction. Akiva Bookman and his team are great, reliable and most of all trustworthy. All of their earnings are done BY THE BOOK so there are no issues like this WHATSOEVER.

  7. To #5 “The Hotels are to expensive”

    Don’t fool yourself. These apartments are the very same price as rgular hotels. Don’t think you are getting a good deal. The landlords know the prices and charge accordingly.

    One thing is for sure, you don’t want to play around with the Israeli legal systems. You will lose and the system will punish you beyond the letter of the law, especially if you are a religious American. Steer clear at all costs!

  8. Dear Avi –

    There is hardly a day that passes without the anti-religious leaders of Israel making an effort to harm the religious community. Today it might appear in the form of a mandatory draft, tomorrow budget cuts, the next day a call for public transportation on Shabbos. The common denominator is simple – they hate religious Jews! If a tax collector feels he can suck money away from an American, especially if he is religious he will surely try his hardest. If you think otherwise, you are naive.


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