The "Kosher tax
" (or "Jewish tax
") is a canard
or urban legend
spread by antisemitic
, white supremacist
and other extremist
organizations. It refers to the claim that food producers must pay an exorbitant amount to obtain the right to display a symbol
on their products (often a K or U in a circle) that indicates it is kosher
, and that this cost is passed on to consumers through higher prices which constitute a "kosher tax." Additional false claims are made that this "tax" is "extorted" from food companies wishing to avoid a boycott
, and used to support Zionist
causes or the state of Israel
Racist groups encourage consumers to avoid this "Jewish tax" by boycotting kosher products, or by requesting a refund from the government on their income taxes. In 1997 the Canada Revenue Agency issued a news release noting the existence of flyers recommending that consumers claim a deduction on their taxes "because they supposedly contributed to a Jewish religious organization when they purchased these groceries." In it then Minister of National Revenue Jane Stewart stated "The intent and message in this literature is deeply offensive to the Jewish community and, indeed, to all Canadians. The so-called 'deduction' described in these flyers does not exist and I urge all taxpayers to ignore this misleading advice."
The actual cost to the consumer is generally minuscule; in 1975 the cost per item for obtaining kosher certification was estimated by The New York Times as being 6.5 millionths (0.0000065) of a cent per item for a General Foods frozen-food item. This is more than offset by the advantages of being certified. Certification leads to increased revenues of sales by opening up additional markets such as Jews who keep kosher; Muslims who keep halal; and vegans, Seventh-day Adventists, and the lactose intolerant who wish to avoid dairy products (products that are certified as pareve may meet this criterion). According to Berel Wein, "The cost of kashrut certification is always viewed as an advertising expense and not as a manufacturing expense." Dispellers of the "kosher tax" legend argue that if it were not profitable to obtain such certification, then food producers would not engage in the certification process, and that the increased sales resulting from kosher certification actually lower the overall cost per item.
Obtaining certification that an item is kosher is a voluntary business decision made by companies desiring additional sales from consumers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) who look for kosher certification when shopping, and is actually specifically sought by marketing organizations within food production companies. The fees charged for kosher certification are used to support the operation of the certifying bodies themselves, and not Zionist causes or Israel.
- "The 'Kosher Tax' Hoax: Anti-Semitic Recipe for Hate", Anti-Defamation League, January, 1991. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
- Blee, Kathleen M. Inside Organized Racism: women in the hate movement, University of California Press, 2003, ISBN 0520240553
- 2000 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, B'nai Brith Canada, 2000. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
- "Dispelling a rumor - there is no kosher tax or Jewish tax", Boycott Watch, December 22, 2003. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
- Brunvand, Jan Herald. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, "The Jewish Secret Tax", W. W. Norton & Company, Nov 1, 2002. ISBN 0-393-32358-7
- "Revenue Minister concerned by tax deduction misinformation", Canada Revenue Agency news release, March 10, 1997.
- Kaplan, Jeffery & Weinberg, Leonard. The Emergence of a Euro American Radical Right, Rutgers University Press, February 1, 1999. ISBN 0-8135-2564-0
- Levenson, Barry M. Habeas Codfish: Reflections on Food and the Law, University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. ISBN 0299175103
- Luban, Yaakov. "The 'Kosher Tax' Fraud", Orthodox Union. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
- Lungen, Paul. "Jewish, Muslim groups join forces join to protect ritual slaughter", Canadian Jewish News, February 20, 2003.
- Mikkelson, Barbara. "The Kosher Nostra", Urban Legends Reference Pages, May 24, 2002. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
- Anti-Semitism: 'Patriot' publications taking on anti-Semitic edge, Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Winter 2002.
- Sullum, Jacob. "Columns: Kosher Cops", The Freeman, Vol. 43 No. 7, July, 1993.
- Tuchman, Aryeh. "Dietary Laws", in Levy, Richard S. Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, ABC-CLIO, 2005. ISBN 1851094393
- Wein, Berel. "The problem with Shinui", The Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2006.