In sickness and in health

Bach’s Double Violin Concerto was once played as a conversation between husband and wife, by two virtuosi, at a memorial service in Westminster Abbey for the late spouse of a prominent politician. A Tel Aviv Labor Court decision earlier this month suggested grounds for a similar musical parley between the National Insurance Institute and the…

Read the small print!

Israel’s much vaunted ten-year tax holiday for new residents is viewed by some as the best thing since sliced bread. To me, it is analogous to shopping for food. My local Jerusalem pint-sized supermarket is no place for the uninitiated, and not much of a place for the initiated. Prices are high at this emporium…

Not their finest hour

Randolph and Jennie Churchill clearly understood their son better than my parents understood me. Winston once related that, as a young child, his mum and dad would not allow him to see the Boneless Wonder at P.T. Barnum’s famous circus, because the ‘spectacle would be too revolting and demoralizing for my youthful eyes’. An ‘exclusive’ …

You’re Fired!

In the first half of the 19th century, criminal cases at London’s Central Criminal Court - The Old Bailey - generally lasted less than half an hour, hardly enough time for the noose to tighten around a petty thief's neck. Meanwhile, as evidenced by the fictitious Jarndyce versus Jarndyce in Bleak House, Chancery cases over…

Searching for what isn’t there?

When I studied economics around the time Americans elected their first septuagenarian president, everything was made to look simple. After decades of the complex world according to John Maynard Keynes,  Milton Friedman dug up an old equation of Irving Fisher, and Monetarism and its Rational Expectations offshoot were launched at the inflation-tired leaders of the…

The postman doesn’t even ring once

Charles Dickens spent much of his literary career railing against the demonic effects of 19th century bureaucracy. He could just as well have been writing today. Unfortunately, now as then, most of us obediently accept the nonsense thrown at us by the nation’s institutions, because – once solved - we don’t have the time, patience…

The People’s Court

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first performance of the classic satirical farce ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, in which two policeman under investigation for the death of a suspect in their custody weave a web of increasingly improbable explanations as to how he fell out of the interrogation room window. I don’t…

Is the law an ass?

Last Sunday, the High Court clipped the wig of a first-class judge - and the tax community in general - in a landmark decision overturning a lower court’s ruling. It reminded me of the reaction I received from a tax authority official to an article I wrote at the turn of the century for a…

Now is the winter of our discontent

  Years ago, before Millennials stalked the earth, I received a call from the Israeli tax authorities. ‘When is your client going to approach us regarding the capital gains tax on their transaction?’ I was duly impressed by the fact the inspector had read that morning’s paper and put two and two together, and was…