HC Deb 14 June 1920 vol 130 cc904-5W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is able to state the precise nature of the levy upon accumulated wealth proposed or in operation in Italy and Switzerland, the principle upon which it is applied, the amount it is expected to yield, and the proportion to the nett annual revenue; and in what respect the proposals are applicable to this country?


A capital levy is now being imposed in Italy. It is imposed primarily on individuals on the basis of their total capital on 1st January, 1920. Italians resident in Italy are liable in respect of all their Italian property, all their foreign shares and securities, and acquisitions since 1st August, 1914, of other foreign property. Capitals less than 50,000 lires are exempt. The rate of the levy is 4.5 per cent. on a capital of 50,000 lires, and gradually rises to a maximum of 50 per cent. on capitals of 100,000,000 lires or more. The levy is payable in 20 equal yearly instalments, unless personal property forms three-fifths of the total capital, when it is payable in 10 equal yearly instalments. Provision is made for discount if the payment does not extend over the full 20 years. Italian companies and firms are not liable to the levy, the shares of the members or partners being included as part of their capitals, but other Italian bodies owning property pay at a flat rate of 8 per cent. per annum for 20 years. Specific provision is made for the cases of foreigners owning property in Italy, Italians resident abroad, etc.

As regards Switzerland, a special levy was imposed in 1915, partly on capital and partly on earned income. The capital portion of the levy was imposed as regards individuals on capitals exceeding 10,000 francs, and rose from 1 per cent. to 1.5 per cent. (on capitals of 2,200,000 francs or over). In the case of companies the rates varied from 2 per cent to 1 per cent., and in case of co-operative societies from 1 per cent. to 5 per cent. The produce of the capital portion separately is not known, but on the basis of the preliminary estimates it would produce about 92 per cent. of the total yield of both taxes (120,000,000 francs), namely, about 110,400,000 francs. A further measure has more recently been under consideration, under which capitals of over 10,000 francs (£400) would be taxed at rates rising to a maximum of 25 per cent. This levy is combined with a levy on income rising to a maximum of 20 per cent. The yield of the combined levy is estimated at 500,000,000 francs, or 600,000,000 francs (£20,000,000 or £24,000,000).