HC Deb 09 March 1911 vol 22 cc1520-2

(1) Where a husband is required under Sub-section (2) of Section seventy-two of the principal Act, to make a return of his total income from all sources for the purpose of Super-tax and part of that total income is the income of his wife, the Special Commissioners may, if for any reason they consider that they are unable to obtain a satisfactory return of the wife's income from the husband, require the wife to make a return of her income, and in that case the wife shall be under the like obligation to make a return under the said section as if she were not married, and the husband shall be relieved from any obligation to make such a return as respects the income of the wife.

(2) Where Super-tax is charged in a case where the wife has been required to make a return under the foregoing provision, such part of the total sum payable in respect of the Super-tax as bears the same proportion to that total sum as the wife's income bears to the total income in respect of which Super-tax is charged shall be assessed on and recoverable from the wife in lieu of the husband.

(3) This section shall have effect with respect to the Super-tax charged for the year beginning the sixth day of Aprils nineteen hundred and nine, and for any subsequent year as if it had been contained in the principal Act, and the provisions of that Act with regard to the assessment and collection of Super-tax, and the penalties for failure to make a return, shall apply accordingly.


I desire to move an Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Rawlinson). I have a new Clause on the paper dealing with the point, but I propose to move this Amendment, to leave out from the word "wife" ["is the income of his wife"], and to insert the words "then the incomes of husband and wife shall be treated as separate incomes for the purpose of Super-tax." I submit that is a reasonable Amendment.


I have considered the matter. The Amendment is not in order.


moved, in Sub-section (2), after "income" ["wife's income bears to the total income"] to leave out the words "in respect of which Super-tax is charged."

The Committee will remember that when the Budget Resolution was moved the reason for reopening the whole question of the Super-tax was that a difficulty had arisen, and it was desired to overcome that. In several cases women had refused to state their income apart from the husband's for the purpose of the Super-tax. In view of that explanation, I should say it must be the intention of the Government and of those who are responsible for the framing of the Bill, that those intentions should be expressed and that the married woman should not be subjected to an undue penalty which she would be if the words were retained. Let me illustrate the point. A woman has an independent income of £2,000, and her husband has an income of £4,000. The amount subject to Super-tax would be £3,000. Under the Clause as it stands the woman would have to bear two-thirds of the Super-tax, while her income is only one-third of the total amount. If the words do not bear that interpretation, do they mean that the Super-tax shall apply only in respect of the total income of £6,000? In that case I say that the words are merely redundant and unnecessary. If they are omitted the whole Clause will be clearer than it stands. I understand that the Amendment is accepted, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.


In defence of the Government draftsman, may I say that if the hon. Member will look carefully at Section 66, Subjection (1) of the Finance Act, he will find those words are really right as they stand. But there is no objection at all to the Amendment, and we gratefully accept the suggestion the hon. Member makes.


May I ask whether I am right in assuming that the effect of this Amendment is that the £3,000 may be deducted not only from the aggregate income of the husband and wife, but from the income of the husband if it had not been aggregated, and from the income of the wife if it had not been aggregated.


The effect will be as the hon. Member who moved desires. Supposing the wife has £2,000 income of her own, and that the husband has £4,000 income of his own. Super-tax is payable only on £3,000. The intention of the Clause, as made perfectly clear by the Amendment, is that the wife should pay two-sixths, or one-third, and that the husband should pay four-sixths, or two-thirds of the total amount.


That is not my point. What I thought was that, where a wife had £6,000 and a husband had £6,000, that the two are added together and only £3,000 is deducted; whereas, if the wife had £6,000 and her sister had £6,000 that a sum of £6,000 is deducted. I understand that that is not the effect of the Amendment.


The effect is as I have stated.


It is deducted from the total.


Is it quite clear that the words "total income" are sufficient, or is it not necessary to say "of husband and wife"?


I will consider that.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.