Arabs Default More on Taxes – Not Because of Nationalism

A research study conducted in Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva finds that Jews are three times as likely to pay property taxes than Arabs – and explains why.

A surprising finding is that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not to blame for the Arabs’ low payment rate.

Rafik Haj conducted his doctoral study on the topic of "Israel’s Arab population and tax payments," in the university’s Department of Administration and Public Policy.

The basis for the paper is the fact that in the Arab sector, only 18.6% of property taxes are collected, compared to 53.7% in Israel’s Jewish sector. The work attempted to find the reasons for the phenomenon, and found that the following factors are influential:

The level of social capital

The socio-economic situation

How many others are perceived to be paying

The level of ethnic heterogeneousness

Perceived level of enforcement

Level of satisfaction with the municipal services

Level of corruption in the city government

The author debunks what he calls two "myths" regarding the low Arab payment rate: "It is not true that Arabs don’t pay because they feel estrangement or lack of belonging to the State," Haj states, and "it is similarly not true that more intense enforcement will raise the payment rate."

Despite this, one of the constructive solutions Haj proposes is to make certain municipal services contingent upon paying city taxes. He also suggests "encouraging an atmosphere of belonging and commitment to the local community," as well as "reforming the city tax structure to adapt it to the special character of the Arab sector."

Nationwide, the percentage of those who pay is nearly double that of the collection rates – meaning, Haj explains, "most of the debts are owed by a small portion of the population."

He found that in Arab localities with higher incomes, payment of city taxes was proportionately higher. "Property taxes are 6.9% of the average income of an Arab family, compared with 4.6% for Jewish families," he determined. This, despite the fact that average Jewish income is not 1.5 times higher than Arabs, but twice as high – meaning that Jewish families are charged more, in proportion with their income, than do Arabs.

In a related item, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Tzvika Fogel, appointed by the Interior Ministry as mayor of the northern Bedouin town of Tuba-Zangariyye, was shot at and had his car burnt last month; he said afterwards that he had never been threatened before. Fogel succeeded in raising the town’s tax collection rate from 7% to 70%.

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