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The "Kosher tax" (or "Jewish tax") is a canard or urban legend spread by antisemitic, white supremacist and other extremist organizations.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]



The claim that consumers are paying an extra tax on products that carry kosher certification has been made by various sources.[1][2][3][4] Similar claims are made that this "tax" is "extorted" from food companies wishing to avoid a boycott,[4][5] and used to support Zionist causes or the state of Israel.[6]

University of Pittsburgh professor of sociology, Kathleen M. Blee, found that some racist groups encourage consumers to avoid this "Jewish tax" by boycotting kosher products.[7] The 2000 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents by the B'nai Brith Canada reported citizens being encouraged to request a refund from the government on their income taxes.[8]

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".[9]


Although companies may apply for kosher certification, the cost of the certification does not figure into the final cost of the product to the consumer,[10][11] and is more than offset by the advantages of being certified.[10] 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.[12]

Certification leads to increased revenues 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).[12][13][14][15]

According to Berel Wein, "The cost of kashrut certification is always viewed as an advertising expense and not as a manufacturing expense."[11] 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.[14][16]

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,[13] and is actually specifically sought by marketing organizations within food production companies.[14] The fees charged for kosher certification are used to support the operation of the certifying bodies themselves, and not Zionist causes or Israel.[6]


  1. ^ a b Lungen, Paul (February 20, 2003). "Jewish, Muslim groups join forces join to protect ritual slaughter". Internet edition (Canadian Jewish News). Retrieved 2006-10-24. "Anti-Semites have advanced 'the libel of the kosher tax' to claim consumers are paying an extra tax on products that carry kosher certification."  
  2. ^ a b Kaplan, Jeffery; Leonard Weinberg (February 1999). The emergence of a Euro-American radical right. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 163. LCCN 98-23536 ISBN 0-8135-2563-2.  
  3. ^ a b Levenson, Barry M. (2001). Habeas Codfish: Reflections on Food and the Law. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 188. ISBN 0299175103. "The dark side of this rather uneventful marketing fact is that some anti-Jewish hate groups have developed a bizarre and baseless theory that there is a 'kosher tax' levied on food, a kind of Jewish conspiracy to extort money from the population at large."  
  4. ^ a b c Tuchman, Aryeh. "Dietary Laws", in Levy, Richard S. Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 178. "Antisemites have decried this certification as a 'kosher tax' that powerful Jews have enlisted governments to collect on their behalf; others have alleged that greedy rabbis threaten businesses with a Jewish boycott unless they accept their fee-based kosher certification."
  5. ^ a b "Anti-Semitism: Patriot publications taking on anti-Semitic edge". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Winter 2002. Retrieved 2007-04-25. "Media Bypass, for one, offered a story about a 'Kosher Nostra scam,' in which 'major food companies throughout America actually pay a Jewish Tax amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars per year in order to receive protection' against Jewish boycotts. These 'elaborate extortion schemes' are coordinated, alleges writer Ernesto Cienfuegos, by 'Rabbinical Councils that are set up, not just in the U.S. but in other western countries as well.'"  
  6. ^ a b c Mikkelson, Barbara (May 24, 2002). "The Kosher Nostra". Urban Legends Reference Pages. Retrieved 2006-10-23.  
  7. ^ a b Blee, Kathleen M. (2002). "The Place of Women" (Googlebooks). Inside organized racism: women in the hate movement. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 129. LCCN 2001-41449. ISBN 0520221745.,M1. "Some [racist groups] urge their members to boycott products certified as kosher."  
    See also footnote 70: "For example, see 'Kosher Racket Revealed: Secret Jewish Tax on Gentiles' (pamphlet distributed by an anonymous racist group, ca. 1991)," p. 232.
  8. ^ a b "Antisemitism in Canada — Regional Climates: Ontario: Toronto". 2000 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. B'nai Brith Canada. 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-25. "Some antisemitic myths continued to proliferate through the year 2000. The Kosher Tax myth claims that the purchase of foods with a kosher symbol on it means that a portion of that money constitutes a tax which benefits the Jewish people. Individuals are advised to go to their cupboards and estimate the worth of all the foods which have those "hidden" symbols on them and claim the money back from the government in their tax returns. Many of the alerts that our offices received about the distribution of the "Kosher Tax" advisories were from accountants who received them as a mailing or were given them along with instructions from their clients to include the material in their taxes. According to these accountants, the people who wanted the refund were not antisemites per se but had received the letters and were ignorant to the meaning of the symbols on the groceries. However, it could be said that those fooled were all too ready to believe the message of the advisories that Jews are sneakily trying to extort money from an unsuspecting public."  
  9. ^ a b "Revenue Minister concerned by tax deduction misinformation", Canada Revenue Agency news release, March 10, 1997.
  10. ^ a b Brunvand, Jan Harold (November 2002) [2001]. "The Jewish Secret Tax". Encyclopedia of urban legends (Reprint ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 222–223. LCCN 2001-000883 ISBN 0-393-32358-7.  
  11. ^ a b Wein, Berel (December 27, 2002). "The problem with Shinui". Jerusalem Post. pp. 8B. Archived from the original on 2002-12-27. Retrieved 2006-10-24. "…due to the volume of goods produced, the cost of certification per unit is so small that it really does not figure in the cost of the product."  
  12. ^ a b "The "Kosher Tax" Hoax: Anti-Semitic Recipe for Hate". Anti-Defamation League. January 1991. Retrieved 2006-10-23.  
  13. ^ a b Luban, Yaakov. "The "Kosher Tax" Fraud". Orthodox Union. Retrieved 2006-10-23.  
  14. ^ a b c "Dispelling a rumor - there is no kosher tax or Jewish tax". Boycott Watch. December 22, 2003. Retrieved 2006-10-24.  
  15. ^ Levenson, Barry M. (2001). Habeas Codfish: Reflections on Food and the Law. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 188. ISBN 0299175103. "Adherents to other faiths, including Moslems and Seventh-Day Adventists, look to kosher certification for a variety of reasons (including making sure the product is pork free)."  
  16. ^ Sullum, Jacob (July 1993). "Kosher Cops". The Freeman 43 (7). Retrieved 2006-10-24. "…anti-Semitic propaganda has for years railed against what hate groups call "the kosher tax." This is the alleged increase in price that results when a food company pays for private kashrut supervision, so that its products can display a mark of certification… For those who don't buy Jewish-conspiracy theories, a more plausible explanation is that the companies have calculated that the extra business generated by kashrut certification more than makes up for the cost of supervision. (Hence no price increase is necessary.)".  




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