Reforming the taxation of housing in Israel

This paper examines the taxation of housing in Israel, and proposes a set of reforms to improve the efficiency and fairness of the current system. Israel’s housing tax system faces similar problems to those of many other OECD countries. In particular, a bias arises in favour of owner-occupied property relative to rented property due to the non-taxation of imputed rents and most capital gains. That said, unlike many OECD countries, Israel taxes some owner-occupied capital gains (above a generous threshold) and generally does not allow mortgage interest relief for owner-occupied properties, reducing the extent of the distortion more than in many countries. As with most OECD countries, Israel levies highly distortionary transaction taxes, although a zero-rate band significantly limits the number of owner-occupied house purchases subject to the tax. Additionally, Israel’s recurrent property tax (the Arnona) faces a number of design problems, while the tax rules for rental income are complex and subject to significant tax evasion. To address these concerns, a reform package is proposed that involves a gradual and broadly revenue-neutral shift away from transaction taxes towards recurrent taxation of residential property, via increases in both the recurrent property tax and rental income taxation. The redesign of the recurrent property tax from an area-based to a market value-based tax is also proposed, as are a number of more technical reforms.

Published on July 16, 2021

In series:OECD Taxation Working Papersview more titles