HC Deb 01 May 1975 vol 891 cc711-2
9. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from married women on the subject of separate tax assessment.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

Treasury Ministers receive various inquiries and representations about the separate assessment procedures, but I am not aware of any general difficulty in this area.

Mr. McCrindle

Would not it be better to make a married woman responsible for completing her own tax return, rather than placing that responsibility on her husband, as is the case at the moment, thereby ensuring that the husband must know his wife's income without a similar right in the opposite direction? Would not that also mean that the woman would become responsible for any false statement on the return, and for paying tax from her own resources, whereas, at the moment, that again is the husband's responsibility? Is the present practice not out of tune with the equality of the sexes movement in 1975?

Mr. Sheldon

Obviously there is a move in this direction. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the current rules for separate assessment which can be claimed by either the husband or the wife. There is likely to be an increase in this area of assessment, and this is a matter with which the Inland Revenue is prepared to deal.

Mrs. Hayman

Is my hon. Friend aware that the workings of the Inland Revenue often are deeply offensive to women, in terms of their taxation position, and that May Day in International Women's Year would be an appropriate time for the Treasury to undertake to look into this matter? Will my hon. Friend make sure that the Government put their own house in order before the passing of the Sex Discrimination Bill makes them do it?

Mr. Sheldon

My hon. Friend will be aware that there has been an investigation into these areas— an investigation which I have been conducting. The procedure for separate assessment, which perhaps is not generally understood, meets a number of her criticisms.