HC Deb 15 July 1919 vol 118 cc242-4

Where a clergyman or minister of any religious denomination occupies a dwelling house rent free by virtue of his office in such circumstances that the annual value of the house does not fall to be regarded as part of his income, he shall be entitled, on giving notice to the surveyor of taxes not later than the thirtieth day of September in any year, to require that the annual value of the house, after deducting there from the amount of any annual sum payable in respect of such house, shall for all purposes of Income Tax for that year be treated as earned income of such clergyman or minister.

In this Section the expression "annual sum" has the same meaning as in Rule 4 (2) of No. VIII. of the rules applicable to Schedule A.

4.0 P.M.


I beg to move, to leave out the words on giving notice to the surveyor of taxes not later than the thirtieth day of September in any year. I think there is really even a clearer case for this Amendment than for the previous one. This Clause deals with appeals by clergymen for repayment of Income Tax on the ground of their being entitled to the lower rate charged in respect of earned income. I do not at all understand the two lines in this Clause restricting the notice to 30th September. It will be seen that notice has to be given to the surveyor of taxes not later than the 30th September in each year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will remember that under the Finance Act of 1907 the taxpayer had to give notice of his claim to a lower rate of duty before the 30th September of the year of assessment.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

I think I shall be able to meet my (hon. Friend on the point of the date by an Amendment which I shall be putting down on the Report stage. I think it would suffice to allow the taxpayer to give the notice required by the Clause, say, within three months after the assessment. I think that would meet my hon. Friend's point.


I am not sure that it does quite meet my point. The point really is that while, under the Act I have just mentioned, notice had to be given before the 30th of September of the year of assessment, in the Finance Act of 1915 this time limit was abolished, and since then a person has been able to claim for the unearned rate within three years of the end of the year of assessment. That is under the Finance Act (No. 2) of 1915. Therefore I do not understand why this particular time limit has been introduced into this Clause. I do not see any reason for it. This Clause is only a very slight extension of the section in the Act of last year dealing with the question of appeals against the unearned rate. I am referring to Section 14 of the Income Tax Act of 1918. Under that section there is no time limit at all—there is nothing about the 30th of September. Therefore I do not see why this time limit should be imposed in this particular Clause.


I think my hon. Friend is under some misapprehension as to the effect of the Clause. If he will place himself in communication with me, or with the Inland Revenue Authorities, I think he will be satisfied that there is a time which he will accept as fair. A clergyman or minister under this Clause is given the option of treating the annual value of the dwelling house which he occupies as earned income. He must exercise that option somehow. He will exercise it whenever it is in his favour to do so, but unless he decides one way or the other his assessment cannot be made.

We must therefore have a date within which he is given the opportunity of exercising his option. It must be a reasonable date, but it must not be so long that, by merely neglecting to exercise his option, he avoids assessment. That is why we put in a date. I think there is a case for Amendment, and as I Have said, I shall be very glad if my hon. Friend will discuss the terms of that with the Inland Revenue Authorities. I think we shall be able to meet any possible case that he would consider it proper to provide for.


On that understanding, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, find Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.


The concession which this Clause contains is one which I have frequently pressed both upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and on one or two of his predecessors. I, therefore, desire to take this opportunity of tendering my thanks to him for what he has done in the matter.

Question put, and agreed to.