HC Deb 10 March 1891 vol 351 cc596-7

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has been informed that the notices for distraint in reference to the payment of Income Tax, which he referred to last week as having been issued without instructions, and further issue of which had been forbidden, still continues to be issued after he had made this statement in the House; whether such notices are printed by Government printers, and distributed to the various collectors who make use of them; whether he is aware that they are delivered at houses without being in envelopes or folded up in any way, and consequently are open to the inspection of servants, or to that of visitors, when thrust under the doors; and can collectors distrain for taxes at any time after 1st January, even if the ordinary demand note has not been received by the taxpayer?


My answer to the first question is No. My answer to the second question is No. One collector had irregular notices privately printed in ignorance of the rules; but only such notices can be issued as have been prepared or approved by the Board of Inland Revenue. I think there is some confusion with regard to these notices. The hon. Member for the Uxbridge Division put a notice in my hands which was irregular, but the hon. Member who asks me this question has sent me one which is perfectly regular, but which, perhaps, he believed fell into the same class as that which was un- authorised. The notice sent me by the hon. Member was issued in March to a club which, I presume, was perfectly competent to pay. The amount was due on the 1st January, and the notice complained of was sent out in March, and it was then stated that if the amount was not paid steps would be taken for putting in force the provision of the Taxes Management Act, 1880, for the recovery of arrears of taxes. If, after two months' grace, such notices were not issued, it is difficult to see how the tax would be collected within the financial year. There is no legal obligation on collectors to enclose the authorised demand notes in respect of duties in envelopes. With regard to the last question, the law does not compel collectors to issue demand notes after the notice of charge has been served in the autumn, but they are generally, I might say, almost universally made use of. As the law now stands, collectors can distrain any time after the 1st of January, when the tax is due, provided that one personal application has been made to the taxpayer for payment.