HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc1903-4

asked the Prime Minister whether he was aware that the United States Government was compelling British ship owners to pay Income Tax on profits they may make in carrying cargo and passengers to and from America; and whether he would reciprocate by requiring American-owned steamers to pay Income Tax in the same manner to the British Government on profits they might make in carrying cargo and passengers to and from this country?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

Under the law, United Kingdom Income Tax is chargeable in respect of the profits arising to a non-resident from any trade or business carried on by him or on his behalf in this country. I understand that the United States of America Income Tax law is somewhat wider in its scope. As regards the last part of the question, I may remind my hon. Friend that the scope of our own law is now under the consideration of the Royal Commission which has been appointed to investigate the Income Tax in all its aspects.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the American Government is imposing Income Tax on steamship lines which have representatives in the United States, and surely, if there is any merit in the old proverb, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, can we not apply the name measure here?


I cannot change the law; it is for Parliament to do that.


Will the right hon. Gentleman bring in legislation to amend the law so as to secure equity?

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of discussing the whole question of double Income Tax with the United States Government in order that next year some reciprocal arrangement may be arrived at?


Have the American shipping companies established here to pay Income Tax on the profits they show here?


I have answered that. It is the fact that the American Income Tax law is wider in its scope than ours.


Much wider.


The whole question of double Income Tax is before the Royal Commission, and I am awaiting their Report before deciding what further steps can be taken. It is, I recognise, a very important question, and it is also a very difficult question.


Would the right hon. Gentleman call the attention of the Royal Commission specially to this anomaly?


I should hope my hon. Friend (Mr. Houston) would take the proper steps to bring the position of the ship owners before the Royal Commission. It would be bettor presented by someone familiar with the subject.