asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much Income Tax of two or more years duration still remains unpaid; how many individuals or firms are concerned; between what amounts do the sums range; and why this failure to collect Income Tax is allowed, in view of the fact that it means higher taxation for those who do pay.
The hon. Member will find the latest available information in the Inland Revenue Appropriation Accounts for the accounting year 1947–48 which were published recently. I cannot accept the implication in the latter part of the hon. Member's Question. As pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in paragraph 10 of his Report, the arrears due for collection show a marked fall between 1946 and 1947. The amount of tax due which is finally written off as irrecoverable is very small: in the year 1947, the total amount of Income Tax and other Inland Revenue duties remitted or written off as irrecoverable was only £1,500,000.
Is the Chancellor aware that concern is caused when publicity is given to the fact that certain individuals have been able to escape liability in this way? Is his Department able to take stronger measures to try to prevent these arrears accruing?
We take all the steps possible to prevent arrears accruing, but it is for the taxpayer to prevent the arrears accruing.