Fewer expat Israelis returned to their native land in 2011 than in the two years previous, and some of those who have returned reported difficulties in cashing in state-promised benefits.
A total of 8,492 Israelis came home last year, down from the nearly 12,000 that returned in 2009. That year, the government promised returnees special benefits following the country’s 60th anniversary celebrations, leading to the spike.
Returning residents still get perks, and many returnees report that the benefits from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry play into their decisions to come back, on top of missing family and friends. But some have complained about the way the perks are structured.
Israelis who had been away for many years, for example, have complained about the fee they had to pay to reinstate their Israeli medical coverage. Dani Zaken of the National Insurance Institute explained that safeguards were put into the system so Israelis who have no intention of remaining in the country don’t get treatment through the state-subsidized medical system.
Returning residents are also entitled to an exemption from purchase tax when importing a car and reduced customs duties, but major restrictions apply. Older cars are not eligible, and when it comes to couples, if one returnee imports a car, the spouse is not entitled to bring in a second car, or even to drive the car that the family does bring in for four years.
The car’s manufacturer also has to have an authorized importer in Israel, or a business deal with them.
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