Reportedly the Israeli government is going to end a tax break relieving Israeli citizens from VAT and customs duty on personal imports from abroad valued at $75 or less. This tax break, no matter how small it was, has been a breath of fresh air for Israeli consumers for the last decade. Instead of paying exorbitant prices for obsolete goods and being a hostages of inefficient Israeli retail system we had a freedom in a few clicks to get what we want from abroad without middlemen. I stopped buying computer accessories in Bug, Ivory and KSP altogether, books in Steimatzky and clothes in Israeli shopping malls. I don’t care whether Israeli retailers survive or not, if they can’t compete in the modern world – to hell with them, their shitty services, overhyped three-for-the-price-of-two discounts, blatant lies and incompetence of their staff. Once we have got a taste of Open Sky low airfare, which opened the world to the whole new generation of Israeli travelers, there is no going back to El Al (besides cases of national emergency). Just leave us a few freedoms that make hard life in our island more bearable!
I do not buy the argument of protecting the local market and saving retail jobs that are beyond salvation. Nobody misses the droves of furniture stores killed by IKEA.
The right thing would by to extend tax break on personal imports to $1,000, not as a temporal measure to be extended by the next unstable government, but as a perpetual consumer right. The idiots in the government, who consider to end this privilege, underestimate the wave of public wrath and long-going political consequences for all coming elections. Ending the popular tax break will have names of politicians attached to unpopular measure.