§ 17. Mr. CASSEL
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there is any and, if so, what precedent, prior to the case of Mr. Mark Wilks, for the enforcement of payment of Income Tax on a wife's income by imprisonment of the husband; and whether he will introduce an amendment of the law into the Finance Bill of next year so that a man may no longer be made responsible for income over which he has no control; and whether he will give orders to stop any further imprisonments in the meantime?
§ 20 and 21. Mr. LOUGH
asked (20) who ordered the imprisonment of Mr. Mark Wilks for non-payment of tax due on the income of his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Wilks; for what year or years was the amount due on which the proceedings were taken; whether the tax demanded, or any part thereof, has been paid; by whose instructions was Mr. Wilks released; whether it is contemplated to take any further action against him or his wife; and (21) whether the usual proceeding of the Income Tax Commissioners is to exact from the husband Income Tax on the separate income of a wife over which he has no control, and, if so, has this course been followed from the commencement in the case of Mr. Wilks; and whether, if this is not found practicable in all cases, he proposes to take any steps to amend the law so as to enable the collectors to proceed directly against the owner of the property which is taxed?
§ 24. Mr. LANSBURY
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Mark Wilks by the order of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, the offence charged against him being that he refused to pay Income Tax due from his wife; whether he is aware that Mr. Wilks is a school teacher without means other than his salary, and has no means with which to pay; if, under those circumstances, he will consider the advisability of asking the House to so amend the law as to make a married woman liable for Income Tax herself responsible for its 341 payment; by whose instructions Mr. Wilks was released; and if the Income Tax has yet been paid?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Mr. Wilks was imprisoned under a writ of the High Court executed by direction of the Board of Inland Revenue in consequence of his failure to pay Income Tax and costs due from him under a judgment of the Court. The tax was payable for the years 1909–10 and 1910–11 in respect of the income of his wife, which, under the Income Tax Acts, is deemed to be his income, and the tax thereon is recoverable from him. Previously to 1909–10 tax was recovered by distraint, but it was subsequently claimed that the goods on which distraint was made belonged to Mrs. Wilks. Mr. Wilks was released by order of the Board of Inland Revenue. The tax has not yet been paid. No further action is being taken in respect of the sums comprised in the judgment. I am not aware of any previous instance in which it has been necessary to have recourse to the ultimate remedy of imprisonment in such a case. I will consider the question of amending the law so as to obviate the necessity for such action, but in the meantime I am certainly not prepared to instruct the Revenue authorities to refrain from administering the law as it stands.