REFILE-Israel finance minister seeks to curb corporate tax benefits

Fri May 10, 2013 6:21pm EDT

JERUSALEM May 10 (Reuters) - Israel's finance minister said on Friday he intends to rein in the tax benefits that major companies are granted in Israel.

"The time has come to change the rules of the game regarding non-taxable profits of international companies and tax benefits," Yair Lapid told Jeremy Levin, the chief executive officer of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries , according to a statement.

Lapid, already feeling heat from the public for introducing new austerity measures, is looking for ways to fill a ballooning hole in Israel's 2013 budget. The government set a deficit target of 4.65 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, or about 47 billion shekels ($13 billion).

Israeli financial daily Globes reported that Teva, the world's biggest maker of generic drugs, received a 3 billion shekel tax break in 2011 as part of a tax law meant to encourage large companies to invest in Israel.

The Finance Ministry statement did not include any details of Lapid's plan, but said Levin and Lapid have agreed to hold "intensive negotiations" to bring such changes.