A tax in some form or other on war or excess profits has been imposed by the following important foreign countries, dominions and colonies: United States of America, France, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Australia, Canada, Union of South Africa, New Zealand, British India.
It is understood that in France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Greece, Germany, Austria, Australia, Union of South Africa, New Zealand, British India, either the duty has come to an end or provision has been made for its coming to an end within the next few months. In New Zealand the duty was imposed for one year only and in British India for two years only.
I have not yet found any country in which there is any enthusiasm for any tax. I am reminded of the case of a poor citizen of South Africa who said to a financial expert sent out from this country that taxation was contrary to the genius of his people.
§ 68. Mr. R. RICHARDSON
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the largest amount of Excess Profits Duty due by one firm; and what arrangements are being made to pay this duty to the Government?
The various assessments to Excess Profits Duty made upon a single taxpayer have not been assembled for statistical or other purposes, and the figure desired could not be obtained without a long and laborious investigation.
§ 69. Mr. SUGDEN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the United States Treasury propose to eliminate, or very considerably reduce, excess profits taxation; whether, seeing that the effect of carrying out such proposal will be to put traders in the United Kingdom, who are subject to Excess 1917 Profits Duty, at a disadvantage in competing for trade and to enhance unemployment in the United Kingdom, he will say what action he proposes to take with regard to this duty; and whether he is aware that in many instances excess profits take the form of raw materials or stock in trade held at high prices, or of increased machinery or plant, with the result that there is no money available to pay the duty?
I believe that the initiation of fiscal legislation in the United States is a function of Congress and not of the Treasury. Certain suggestions in regard to the future of the Excess Profits Tax were made by the Treasury in March last, but Congress did not, I understand, take any action thereon before it rose. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on the 1st November last. and as regards the third part I would point out that the provisions of the law authorising payment by instalments where businesses are short of cash resources are liberally administered.