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Income Tax Summonses

Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been drawn to the large number of people who are out of employment and are being summoned for the non-payment of Income Tax; and whether, in view of the great distress that exists throughout the country and the inability to pay the tax through unemployment, he will issue instructions that every latitude be given before summonses are issued, and so prevent this additional cost to the taxpayer?

The hon. Member is, I think, under a misapprehension. The number of cases in which persons, who are in fact unemployed, are summoned for the non-payment of Income Tax, is relatively very small. Such cases, when they do arise, are due to the difficulty experienced by the local officials in ascertaining the individual taxpayer's circumstances and to his failure to intimate the fact of his unemployment. Under standing instructions, taxpayers who are known to be out of employment, and, in consequence, unable to pay arrears of Income Tax due from them, are not summoned.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many have been summoned, and that the cost of the summons has been added to the Income Tax? That is the position.

I think, if the hon. Gentleman will look at the answer I have just given, he will see that the circumstances are explained, and he will find that it is probably not the fault of the Inland Revenue.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the Ogmore Division a number of men have been proceeded against who were out of employment last March and have not resumed work; that the local Revenue officials were fully cognisant of the local circumstances; and will he take steps to prevent a repetition of that kind of thing?

I have already stated that to the best of my information and belief, where it is known that the men are out of work, they are not summoned. If the hon. Member knows of cases in which he believes that that rule has been broken, I shall be very glad if he will draw my attention to them.