§ MR. P. O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
On behalf of the honourable Member for the St. Patrick Division of Dublin, I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he can state the amount of 1297 income tax paid by the Scottish Co-operative Society; and whether it is levied on the same lines as those applied to ordinary traders?
§ MR. HANBURY
Under no circumstances could such information as the honourable Member asks for in the first paragraph be given. The Scottish Co-operative Society is not assessed to income tax in the same way as an ordinary trading company. Such a company pays income tax before its profits are distributed among the members, and any member who may be personally entitled to exemption is left to recover the tax on his share by way of repayment. But the Scottish Co-operative Society is registered under the industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1893, and in pursuance of the 24th section of that Act income tax is levied, not upon the gross profits of the society before distribution, but upon the individual shares of such members as are not entitled to exemption. This procedure makes no difference in the amount of income tax payable upon the profits of the society; it is merely an arrangement for administrative convenience which avoids the trouble of exacting income tax from a number of persons who have a statutory title to exemption, and then paying it back to them upon application.