Comprehensive guide to opening a business in Israel

June 30, 2010

I am so glad that I did not write this post such a bombastic title, I am not deserving!

As many of you know, Rachel Berger is a senior executive (to use Old Countryspeak) at Nefesh Benefesh, and if I haven’t plugged that organization until now on my blog, my bad, here it is.

Anyway, somehow I came across this guide, and then found it was barely findable, so I am assuming Rachel won’t mind my posting it here. As a non-professional, I do not attest to the correctness of her writing, nor of mine, blah blah blah. YMMV.

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Date: Aug 21 2009 – 5:46pm

Establishing a Business

Step 1: Opening a File for VAT
To open a Tik (file) for Ma’am (VAT), you will need to go to the local tax office. To find the local tax office, check online or in a phone directory under “Mas Hachnasa” (income tax). You will need to bring your Teudat Zehut (ID card) with you and fill out forms with the required information. The type of Tik that you open depends on how much you plan to make a year, i.e., the scope of your business.

If you expect to make under 70,000 NIS: Open a Tik for an Osek Patur, which means that you are exempt from Ma’am and – basically – do not need to interface with the income tax offices, which is very convenient. You will need to buy a Pinkas Kabalot (receipt book) so that you can issue receipts for your clients. A Pinkas Kabalot can be found in any office store. can will use the receipts from this Pinkas for bookkeeping purposes.

If you expect to earn over 70,000 NIS: Open a Tik for an Osek Morshe. You will receive an official Ma’am book. Clients will be charged Ma’am and you will basically be required to forward the Ma’am that they pay to the Ma’am office. When you sign up, make sure to ask the exact details of where and how you make the payment.

Step 2: Mas Hachnasa (Income Tax Authorities)
To open a file as an Oved Atzmai (freelancer) , you need to take the Osek Patur or Osek Morshe certificate to the Mas Hachnasa (income tax) office. Find the department in Mas Hachnasa that handles freelancer, and fill out the necessary paperwork. Once you’ve completed the registration, you will be required to submit a tax form once a year, which you will be receiving in the mail from the tax office.

Buy an accountant book – Sefer Tikbulim V’Tashlumim – at any office store, and use it to keep track of your payments and expenses. If you are careful about recording your transactions, it will make it easier to fill out the annual tax form.

Save all of your receipts and relevant paperwork, for a period of seven years. While noone wants to be audited, it does happen, and the only way to protect oneself is by saving all of the necessary documents.

An Atzmai who works from home can deduct some expenses from home bills such as electricity, internet, phone costs, Arnona (property tax), etc. The percentage of the deduction is based on the area used for the business. For example, if a house has four room and one of the rooms is used for business, the deduction that is recognized would be a quarter of the total cost. For more information about what can be deducted, speak to a qualified accountant.

Step 3: Bituach Leumi
When you open a file at Mas Hachnasa, a file is automatically opened for you at Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute).

The Bituach Leumi office will send you a form requesting your employment details, including any pay stubs that you have, and an Ishur (statement) from the bank providing that you are the owner of your bank account.

Once you submit this form, Bituach Leumi deducts 9% to 16% of your income as either Bituach Leumi or Mas Briut, depending on how much money you earn. The exact amount that will be deducted is listed on the Bituach Leumi website (HYPERLINK “http://www.btl.gov.il/”www.btl.gov. il).

Step 4: Declaration of Capital
Approximately every four years, you will be asked to submit a declaration which indicates your net worth, including your earnings and any properties that you own. It is recommended that an accountant with expertise in Hats’harat Hon prepare this form on your behalf.

Rachel Berger
Senior Career and Business Developer
NefeshB’Nefesh

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A Little IRS/Mas Hachnasa Dovetail

July 1, 2009

Yesterday was the last day to submit the FBAR (see http://muqata.blogspot.com/2009/06/us-citizens-in-israel-have-you-filed.html). I had heard a tiny bit about it over the past few weeks, maybe even got an email or two from a few friends, but there was certainly not enough buzz about it here in Israel (think 2008 US Presidential Elections) for me to actually look into it. But then I read the blog post I referred to earlier int his post, spoke to a neighbor, and decided I better file.

Now, first of all, I have a little experience filling out US tax type forms, as I’ve done some administrative work for a lawyer, so I’m familiar. And of course, as you know, I recently submitted an Israeli Hatzharat Hon assets declaration. I expected this FBAR to pretty much take the same info about my bank accounts and other accounts (like kupot pensia and hishtalmut) that my Hatzharat Hon did. And – I think I was right!

The form did not take 20 minutes as the “time burden” notice on it claimed, closer to an hour or two, but had I not submitted a Hatzharat Hon a month or so before, I would either have given up, or given that I was afraid of a $10K fine(!), I would have gone crazy.

An observation: if you really have your life in order, knowing your budget and sticking to it, documenting what needs to be documented, etc., then you don’t get surprised too much. In fact, you get happily surprised sometimes.
What do you think? Leave me a comment.