Income Tax (Remissions)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th July 1949.

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Photo of Sir Archer Baldwin Sir Archer Baldwin , Leominster 12:00 am, 28th July 1949

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what provisions of the Income Tax Acts are individual hardship cases dealt with by him.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

It has long been recognised that a power of remitting tax in cases where the full claim cannot be obtained or cannot reasonably be enforced is inherent in the general powers for the management of the revenue which are vested by Section 57 of the Income Tax Act, 1918, and Section 1 of the Inland Revenue Regulation Act, 1890, in the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. In individual cases the Commissioners normally exercise their own discretion, but the approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is obtained for any remission of general application. All remissions of tax are reported to the Comptroller and Auditor-General for the information of the Public Accounts Committee.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

Why, then, has the right hon. Gentleman just sent me a letter about a constituent aged 83 who has been charged for tax incurred six years ago which was not claimed at the time by the mistake of the Inland Revenue authorities? Why has he told me there is no power in him to remit this claim?

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

Without knowing off-hand the details of the case which the right hon. Gentleman quotes, the answer is that it is generally the law that there is no power to remit. However, as the House is well aware, during our Debates recently on the Finance Bill, my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, under pressure from all sides of the House, indicated that certain sections for certain reasons would receive discretionary treatment.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, may I now resubmit this case to him, and ask him to exercise his discretion upon it?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

Would the right hon. Gentleman clearly specify whether the power of remission of tax lies with the Crown or with the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I think I have made it quite clear in the rather long answer I have given. It resides, through the Acts I have mentioned, in the Inland Revenue under the control and supervision of the Chancellor of the day. If I may add this, the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain made this quite clear in 1937 in reply to similar questions.