Discrimination Against Recipients of Rent Assistance in Property Tax Abatement
Regulations that determine eligibility for property tax abatements, determine economic criteria for discount eligibility, among other things. Ownership of an apartment or entitlement to subsidized public housing is not considered income (which may compromise eligibility for a discount), yet financial assistance received by the Ministry of Housing to pay rent, is considered income and may thus result in one not meeting the criteria for abatement. This creates an absurd, incoherent, and discriminatory situation. Those who live in the apartments they own, as well as those who rent out residential apartments that they own while paying rent for a residential apartment with their income, may enjoy property tax abatement. In parallel, someone who has struggled with homelessness their entire life and lives off of a very low income – deeming them eligible for modest financial assistance in paying rent – will not benefit from this social discount.
We appealed to the Minister of Public Affairs to amend the regulations so that financial assistance from the Ministry of Housing toward the payment of rent will be added to the list of payments that are not considered income for the purpose of determining eligibility for a property tax abatement. Attorney Reut Shaer, Unit Director of ACRI’s Public Hotline, claimed that denying tax abatement to those who receive rent assistance thwarts the purpose of granting the discount, while harming the most impoverished and vulnerable populations among those struggling with homelessness in Israel. She emphasized that the financial assistance is transferred to the landlord, such that the individual solely serves as a conduit, and that many other social laws exclude rent assistance from the definition of “income.”