The Tax Authority will return to the public about NIS 12.2 million that it collected from other computer and security fees collected at customs for import lists produced by courier companies when importing items from abroad to Israel (collective lists) – the Central District Court ruled, after approving a compromise reached A class action lawsuit filed against the IRA for unlawful collection from the public.
The class action lawsuit was filed in 2013 by Doron Kilstein, through attorneys Ehud Kronfeld and Sharon Sofrin of Eitan Glory Fields, alleging illegal collection of computer and security fees as part of collective lists (import lists) produced by TNT, DHL and Flying courier companies. Cargo and OPSE. Kilstein demanded the return of some of the fees that had been collected from him for two years.
After hearing the evidence in the motion to approve the lawsuit as a class action, Judge Ezekiel Keener approved the management of the lawsuit as a class action. The approval decision states that the state collects fees for collective lists in amounts exceeding the amounts of fees set forth in the Customs Regulations, and that there is a very reasonable possibility to be determined in the lawsuit that the collection of fees by the state for collective lists is illegal.
“I found above that the respondent (Tax Authority, A. L.V.) acted in an improper manner, and contrary to the principle of legality, while collecting computer and security fees on import lists which she called ‘collective lists’, at rates different from those authorized to collect them, under the Customs Regulations enacted By virtue of the Customs Ordinance, “the judge wrote in the approval decision, adding that the tax authority” refrained from bringing the computer and security fees it collected on collective lists for approval by the Finance Committee, even though it was aware of the general need for Finance Committee approval for these fees. In practice, the amounts of the fees collected by the respondent on the above lists were much higher than the amounts of the fees for which she was allowed to charge. “
The approval decision also states that although the fees are collected from the importers of the goods to Israel by the courier companies, this is done by them for the state, and they constitute only a “conduit” for the transfer of the fees from the importers to the state. Therefore, the State’s claim of lack of rivalry between it and the importers was rejected.
Following the approval decision, in March 2018, the parties filed a lawsuit for mediation before retired Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis. The mediation procedure is intended to determine the mechanism for the recovery of amounts collected from Killstein beyond what is required by the tax authority.
After a lengthy mediation procedure, the parties submitted to the court a compromise arrangement for approval, according to which the Tax Authority will return funds to the public for the difference between the amounts of computer and security fees actually collected in collective lists during the recovery period – and the fees set forth in customs regulations. The aforesaid difference amounts to NIS 12,228,219.
In light of the fact that in about 80% of the shipments there is no ID number of the importer (in light of the procedure at the time according to which the obligation to indicate the importer’s identification number – ID / HF as applicable – applies to shipments worth more than $ 100 The delivery weight exceeds 5 kg), and since the courier companies also pointed out difficulties in locating the group members entitled to restitution, the mediator recommended transferring the restitution amount to a fund established in accordance with section 27A of the Class Actions Law.
The amount of the refund will be transferred to the fund at its nominal value as of the date of submission of the application for approval, in October 2013, in 12 equal monthly payments. The first payment will be made within 30 days from the date of approval of the settlement by the court.
Judge Keener approved the settlement, noting that with regard to a future settlement, at a hearing on December 4, 2017, the director of customs, Avi Arditi (retiring this month from the Tax Authority, A.L.W.), clarified that from August 2017, the customs directive to stop collecting permits came into force. Collective lists, and from that time the fees allowed under the regulations were collected for them – so there is no need to provide instructions regarding a future series.
In light of the difficulty in locating all members of the group who are entitled to a refund, it was determined that the refund amounts that will be transferred to the fund will be intended for the following purposes: for the benefit of consumers and consumer goals – 70%; And for the benefit of innovation projects – 30%.