asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the war-time increase in the number of Income Tax payers from 800,000 to some 9,000,000, and to the complexities of the present Income Tax Acts, he will introduce new legislation upon the matter as was done during the last war; and whether he will make use of the draft of a simplified Income Tax Act which was part of the report of the Committee for the simplification of these Acts which was appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1927 and, after nine years work, reported in 1936?
I fully appreciate the considerations which my hon. Friend has in mind, and I recognise the importance of a complete codification of the Income Tax law as soon as it is practicable. I am afraid, however, that in view of the labour involved, it is impossible to undertake so considerable a task at a time like the present.
Is my right hon. Friend serious in making that reply, because this report was in the hands of the Department in 1936? Is it not the case that if it had been given proper attention, the Chancellor would have had a very much easier job in war-time, especially now that so many working-class people have to pay Income Tax?
The provisions of the Excess Profits Tax are necessarily complicated and I doubt if they are susceptible of such simplification as my hon. Friend would desire. In existing circumstances, when the pressure of business is so heavy, I am afraid this would not be possible.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the operation of the Excess Profits Tax is putting companies into a position that, when the war is over, they will not be able to function at all?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that Sections 25 to 27 of the Finance Act, 1941, which necessitate calculating 20/29ths of many sums of money, give a great deal of work to depleted accounts staffs; and whether he will consider an alteration of this fraction to two-thirds?
The legislation to which my hon. Friend refers provided that a tax-free payment of any given amount should be satisfied by the same gross income as was required before the war when Income Tax was 5s. 6d. in the £. With Income Tax at 10s. this involves the reduction of the tax free payment to 20/29ths of its pre-war figure. I should not feel justified in substituting the simpler fraction named by my hon. Friend, which would reduce the payment to a greater extent than is required for the purpose stated.