Is ‘Snitching’ to the Tax Authorities a Sin?

A major Jewish legal debate is shaping up over the permissibility of “snitching” to the tax authorities, submitting names of suspected tax evaders. A recent government campaign urges Israelis to turn in suspected cheats, providing a phone number and web site where individuals can submit anonymous information about tax cheats.

The government established the program several weeks ago, in a near-desperate attempt by the government to collect some of the billions of outstanding tax shelters that are owed by citizens from all walks of life. The government needs to find about NIS 10 billion ($3.7 billion) in order to balance the next state budget, and collecting money owed by Israelis is one of its most important strategies.

However, there is a major aversion in Jewish culture to “snitching.” In previous generations, especially in Europe, governments would collect confiscatory taxes from Jews, driving many into extreme poverty. Thus, many Jews living in ghettos and isolated villages would try to avoid paying taxes.


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