REPORTS AND MINISTERIAL MOTIONS. - ESTABLISHMENT OF INCOME TAX DEPARTMENT.
The MINISTER FOR FINANCE moved:
"That a Department for the collection of Income Tax be instituted by Dáil Eireann, and that all persons who pay the Income Tax to that Department which otherwise they would pay to the British Government be indemnified against losses caused by distraint or otherwise in agreed circumstances, discretionary power being given to the Dáil Income Tax Department to refuse such taxes as it deems inadvisable to accept."
JOSEPH MACDONAGH (Tipperary North) seconded the motion. He stated that instructions had been issued by Somerset House in London to the effect that no distraints in respect of Income Tax were to be made and no final notices to be issued, and that Collectors were to be as polite as possible.
He suggested that there should be no definite instructions against filling up returns as it would be of assistance to know the amount of the demand made. He explained the English Department's procedure in issuing Demand Notices and said that the people to whom notices of charges for Income Tax were issued could be told by the Department now proposed to be set up what proportion of that charge they should pay, and he suggested that they should pay something less than that under the English demand. This was preferable to giving a rebate afterwards. It would be an easy matter for their collectors to take up the money that Republicans did not wish to pay into the English Government.
As regards the collection it was likely that the English Government would try to make examples of people in different districts who would pay into the Irish Republican Treasury, but arragements could be come to whereby there could be no sale of the goods seized and no transit.
He estimated the sum that would be raised by the Irish Treasury in this way would approximate to £1,000,000 per year, and he did not think the indemnities would be anything like half that sum.
T. MACSUIBHNE (Cork Mid.) considered that not alone was the proposal a useful one, but it was practical business as well. He supported the motion.
J.J. WALSH (Cork City) said that excess profits amounted to about 4½ million pounds per annum. He considered this tax as mischievous as the other, and it should not be left outside the present proposal.
JOSEPH MACDONAGH (Tipperary North) held that excess profits and Income Tax were the same thing, and he was sure the proposal was meant to include both.
EOIN MACNEILL (Derry City and National University) was in substantial agreement with the proposal. If it could be shown to the people that they could get half their taxes remitted it was likely that the proposal would meet with success. If the people were asked for the same amount by them as by the English Government they would be less likely to pay into the Irish Treasury. It would be much better that the amount payable to the Republican Government should be only 50 per cent. of the claims issued by the English Government.
The MINISTER FOR DEFENCE was of opinion that the whole scheme was contingent on an agreement with Labour. If there was no arrangement with Labour how were they to prevent the English Government from seizing the goods of people as they wished.
The FINANCE MINISTER replied that an arrangement with Labour was desirable, but Labour could not be approached until the scheme had first been passed. If it was decided to go ahead and collect the Tax the first step would be to force the withdrawal of English Collectors of Taxes. Of the hundreds and thousands of taxpayers who would refuse to pay to the English Collectors it would be attempted to make a few examples in certain districts in order to break down the scheme. He would prefer to charge the whole tax as it would be incurring no more liability than the taking of half or any less sum. A system of rebate could be arranged later.
SEAN ETCHINGHAM (Wicklow East) was entirely in favour of the proposal provided that Labour would support it.
EOIN MACNEILL (Derry City and National University) suggested that the proposal be amended to read that the Ministry be empowered to set up such a Department.
The FINANCE MINISTER would not accept this amendment from a business point of view. To refer the matter back to the Ministry was only a way of putting it off when the Dáil did not wish to come to a decision.
SEAN MAC AN TSAOI (Monaghan South) agreed that this matter should not be referred back to the Ministry.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE stated that the most important consideration of all was whether the Dáil was able to carry out decisions come to. He suggested that the question be left to the Ministry to carry out if they saw it was feasible.
The FINANCE MINISTER observed that they were not proposing to enforce the payment of Income Tax, as the Defence Minister apparently thought. Any arrangement that could be made with Labour would be made. The scheme was a feasible one and could be carried out.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT stated that there was one point that should be kept in mind. The Dáil could not make a Decree, contingent upon some circumstances or other. If the motion was passed, the Ministry would be responsible for taking steps to give effect to it.
After further discussion the motion was put and agreed to.