OIREACHTAS STAFF. - DOUBLE TAXATION (RELIEF) BILL, 1923.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

I understand it will be convenient for the President, who is present, if we take the two Money Bills on the Order Paper at this stage, and I presume the Seanad will agree. The first of these is the Double Taxation (Relief) Bill, and the question proposed is:

"That this Bill be now read a second time."

If I may intervene now for a few moments I should like to say that this Double Taxation (Relief) Bill is an enabling instrument to allow us to come to an arrangement with the British Government whereby there will not be double taxation levied, and also to provide for avoiding the same obligation with regard to Stamp Duties, Death Duties, and so on. At present, if this Bill were not passed, and the Government were not authorised to enter into negotiations making the necessary arrangements, a person deriving income from some investments in England would, in the first case, be liable to deductions at the current rate of Income Tax in England, and then, when the dividends arrived here, would be also liable for Income Tax upon this side. I think this Bill, if the general impression outside the Seanad be taken into account would affect the individual members of this House, perhaps, much more than the individual members of the Dáil, and I expect it should be a much more popular instrument in this House than in the other. It is necessary, at any rate, we should get this Bill through without delay.

The Bill is rendered necessary by the separation of the two countries, and the setting up of Saorstát Eireann; it is an equitable measure. It would be unfair, having regard to what has for the last hundred and twenty years, to have people who have investments in both countries subject to such a very serious imposition, and that no steps should be taken to remedy it. It is to remedy it that we are moving and we are applying to business and commerce and taxation equitable principles so that any person having investments in England and here whether he is a citizen of the Saorstát having investments in England, or a British subject having investments in Ireland and living in England, would pay no more, in any circumstances, than the higher rate of taxation prevailing in either country. I think this is not a Bill that would require much criticism, and as I have said, it is necessary that the question raised in it should be dealt with without delay. Steps have been taken already by the British Government, on their part, when they passed an enabling Act last year entitling them to make this arrangement, and all we are doing now is seeking the same power.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

As it is desired to put this Bill through all its stages to-day it will be necessary to move the suspension of the Standing Orders.

I beg to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the Double Taxation Bill to be put through all its stages

I beg to second.

Question put and agreed to.

This Bill enables people living in this country to get a little of their own back. It deals with Stamp Duties, Succession Duties, Probate Duties, and so forth. Under the arrangements existing at the present moment it may conceivably happen that a considerable amount of these taxes and duties would go into the British Exchequer. Under this Bill when it becomes an Act, they will come into the Irish Exchequer. If this Bill were not passed a person might find that he would be liable to pay two sets of taxes. That used to be the case some years ago with people in this country and Great Britain who had property in Australia, in Canada, and in South Africa, and the matter was only remedied when the British Parliament passed an Act dealing with it. This proposes that we should have the same status and that we should pay only one income tax, and I think we should do our best to pass it at once.

I imagine there will be no opposition in this House to this Bill, the purpose of which is to relieve taxation. There is just one point, however, on which I would like to have some information. Even now, and certainly in the future, in the case of supertaxes, if there were differential rates of income tax the question of citizenship, or domicile, will be very important. In the case of a person I know of—I need not mention names, but the case is within the knowledge of some members of the House—that person's citizenship or domicile appears to be in great doubt. The person has property in both countries, and up to some time ago, at least, resided for about equal periods of the year in each country. I should like to know from the President if he could give the Seanad any indication as to how doubtful cases on the border line would be determined.

I am afraid that is a question on which I would need to get some notice before I could give a reply. As far as domicile, in the Saorstát is concerned, I understand that a person leaving Ireland and staying away for some time is entitled to claim citizenship if he or she has not definitely made up their mind not to return. In that case the person could retain his citizenship. In the particular case that the Senator has in mind, I do not know that it is affected by the issue, because I take it if the income be derived from Ireland, and that there is a heavier super-tax in Ireland than in Great Britain, I think in that case the person would be liable for the heavier super-tax. On the other hand, if an Irish citizen has money invested in England, and the super-tax in England is heavier than in Ireland, then I imagine that person would be liable for the heavier super-tax in England. I will make a note of the Senator's inquiry, and inform him personally about the matter.

I just want to make one or two observations with regard to this Bill. Some of us were rather disconcerted to find the other day when the Bill was before the other House, that the Leader of a Party there had at the back of his mind the idea that he would like to impose additional taxation. I am afraid if such a proposition were accepted, that its effects would be directed principally against the members of the Seanad. As I say, it was rather disconcerting, and at a time when we expected to get some relief, to find there was an idea to put on additional taxation. I think the same gentleman went a little beyond the mark when he said that he would favour the exercise of compulsion in giving effect to his idea. We had so much compulsion during the last two or three years, that I suppose it was thought we would not mind a little more of it. I thought we were fairly safe within the precincts of this House, and I think it might be well, perhaps, if we were to appoint a Committee of protection, in which I suppose, we would get the support of the Labour Senators sitting behind here in protesting against any compulsion being applied to us. I suppose we need not anticipate trouble of that kind.

Question put: "That the Bill be now read a second time."
Agreed.
Bill put through all its further stages and passed.