HC Deb 26 February 1987 vol 111 cc413-4
15. Mr. Dubs

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pensioners pay income tax; and what is the total revenue involved.

17. Mr. Fry

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many persons in the last financial year for which figures are available, in receipt of retirement pensions, paid income tax of £300 or less for the relevant year; and what were the comparable figures in the two preceding years.

Mr. Brooke

The available information relates to single people and married couples aged 65 or over. About 2½ million pay income tax totalling nearly £4 billion per annum. However, in each of the last three years about four and three quarter million had no liability to income tax while a further three quarters of a million paid tax of 1;300 per annum or less.

Mr. Dubs

Does the Minister understand the sense of injustice felt by those pensioners who have a small occupational pension on top of their basic pension and still have to pay tax on it? Does not justice to pensioners demand that those poor people should be exempt from paying income tax?

Mr. Brooke

Single pensioners can have income up to £16 per week over basic pension before paying tax, and married pensioners can have around £25 per week.

Mr. Fry

Does my hon. Friend not appreciate that the figures that he has provided this afternoon show that it is dangerous to lump all pensioners together and that some pensioners are not quite in the category described by the Labour party? None the less, does he appreciate that it must cost the Inland Revenue a considerable amount to collect the taxation from the three quarters of a million pensioners he mentioned'? May we hope for further moves in the direction that the Government have taken to remove those people entirely from the income tax net?

Mr. Brooke

Between 1979 and 1985 pensioners' total net income increased on average by 2.7 per cent. a year more than prices, whereas the average net income for the population as a whole increased by 1 per cent. per annum. I note what my hon. Friend said, but that again is a question for the Budget.