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A Taxing Situation

Mayor Eli Landau of Herzliah has not actually put up signs reading “detour — tax collectors ahead.” But he may as well have, considering that motorists driving through that town north of Tel Aviv are being diverted around roadblocks set up by tax collectors.

The income tax authorities established checkpoints on the main highway through Herzliah in an effort to apprehend tax evaders. Vehicles are flagged down and the information on the driver’s license and registration is compared by computer to a list of tax delinquents. Motorists found to be in default are issued a summons on the spot with the threat that their cars will be impounded if they do not settle up promptly with the government.

But the process created huge traffic jams and Landau ordered his road maintenance crews to direct drivers away from the roadblocks. The tax authorities insist they are legally allowed to take all necessary measures to collect back taxes. Landau maintains that he has an equal right under the law to direct traffic around obstructions, which he identified, in this case, to be the tax collectors’ roadblocks.

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