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Property taxes not paid? The city can sell your home without any court hearing

Eyal Globus, head of the Justice Ministry’s legal aid department. Photo by Emil Salman

Eyal Globus, head of the Justice Ministry’s legal aid department. Photo by Emil Salman

The year 1929 saw a multitude of economic catastrophes. The financial crisis started in the United States with the collapse of the stock market, leading to a prolonged and unprecedented depression. Thousands of miles away, in Mandatory Palestine, a tax collection ordinance was enacted, regulating measures for the collection of taxes and unpaid debts.

This ordinance served the mandatory civil service well, enabling it to swiftly collect unpaid debts. With the stroke of a pen, authorities could quickly take possession of the assets of unruly natives who did not pay their debts in a timely manner.

What was good for the British authorities quickly proved to be just as good for the Finance Ministry, which now applies the same ordinance when dealing with unpaid municipal and local authority taxes. Eighty-three years after it was enacted, the ordinance still serves city hall well - at the expense of debtors' rights.

The tax collection ordinance permits local authorities to take action at their own discretion against citizens who have unpaid bills, without resorting to legal action and without obtaining a court ruling. The ordinance does not require any legal process to be followed prior to initiation of collection measures. This saves municipalities the inconvenience of legally determining and proving to a court the amounts owed, and enables them to bypass counter-claims made by citizens. This course of action also avoids wasting time waiting for a court ruling.


Disclaimer: The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Estates Report and/or its partners.