Photo: Sasson Tiram
The state is offering all expatriates a "new immigrant" status if they return to Israel, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced Wednesday. The status carries government benefits and large tax exemptions.
The number of returning expatriates dropped significantly in 2010 and the plan, devised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in cooperation with the ministry, aims to bring back at least 75,000 of them from their various locales around the world.
On Sunday the government is set to approve the plan, which states that anyone who has lived abroad for six years or more will be handed the same benefits as a newly arrived immigrant. It has been said to cost over $25 million.
Immigrants arriving in Israel receive three income tax allowance points for the first year and a half of their stay. They are also exempt from sales tax, VAT, and customs on goods for the home. In addition, they receive a significant discount on new vehicles.
The plan also requires a change in the state's national health insurance law. Currently, returning expatriates are not eligible for health insurance for the first year and a half of their stay and until after they have paid a sum of $2,400. According to the new plan, the waiting period and charge will be waived.
"State support for absorption of returning residents will contribute to the strengthening of its economy," Netanyahu said Wednesday.
Avi Feldman, who lives in Los Angeles, said the plan was "certainly something that can make me think twice".