I move Recommendation No. 1, as follows:—
In Section 1, page 3, after sub-section (2), that a new sub-section (3) be inserted as follows:—
(3) Where the total income of any individual exceeds £1,500 and the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that the whole or part of that income is derived from director's remuneration on which corporation profits tax is chargeable under the provisions of Section 36, sub-section (4), of this Act, surtax shall not be chargeable on that part of such income on which corporation profits tax is chargeable.
I frankly admit that if the principle of my recommendation were adopted it would require expert drafting. My object in putting it down is again to draw attention to what I am satisfied is an inequality and a hardship which is being applied to a limited number of persons under this Bill. The main subject matter was dealt with under a different type of recommendation on the Committee Stage, notably recommendation No. 3, which is carried forward to the Report Stage. If the Minister was quite unsympathetic, and if he had stated that it was his desire and his intention to place the additional taxation on these particular types of persons I would not have gone any further, because I would have recognised that it was Government policy and that there was no use in attempting to defeat it here.
But, I am not at all satisfied, particularly on reading the report of the debate, that the Minister himself realises the extent to which what I contend is unfair taxation is being put on a limited number of persons. The only crime of these persons is that having a certain amount of money to invest, they invested it in limited companies which they themselves controlled. If they invested in businesses controlled by some one else, they would not have been caught. The effect of the Bill is that these persons will have to pay on their income in excess of £1,000, if they are caught by the provisions of Section 36, 10 per cent. on the first £500, and on the amount over £1,500, they will have to pay 10 per cent. plus 6d. surtax, and so on, as the surtax increases.
Why these particular persons should have to pay 10 per cent., plus surtax, I cannot see, because the only grounds given for the proposal are that they happen to be persons who receive fees as directors from their own companies, or are managing directors of companies which they do not control, but into which they happen to have put some of their own money. Neither of these seems sufficient ground for placing this additional taxation on them.
The case made by the Minister, in so far as I understood it—and I think he will absolve me from any intention if, by any chance, I do misrepresent him —was that this had been the position prior to this Bill. When I replied to that and stated that it applied to a very much smaller number of individuals before this Bill and then only to those where the total profits of the company were in excess of £5,000 and, therefore, hit only a small number of wealthy persons, he then, in effect, suggested that it had been the law in England until the corporation profits tax was abolished in 1923 or 1924.
I should point out to the Minister that these few wealthy persons who owned and controlled a company which made profits in excess of £5,000, that is, after deducting their salaries up to £1,000, are only hit now by the increased income-tax. In the case of people who are now caught by this Bill, not only have they to pay income-tax at a higher rate but, as already pointed out, they will have to pay 10 per cent. on the amount of the salaries which they did not have to pay last year or for many years previously. It may be said that the 10 per cent. comes out of the company, rather than directly out of the individual salaries, but as it applies only to companies owned and controlled by directors, it is the same thing in effect and, as they will discover in next year's profit, it means that there will be an equivalent reduction in their actual income. If it applied to companies not owned and controlled by them, it might be argued then that it was paid out of the company. If you go back to the time when corporation profits tax was abolished in England, or to the year when it was practically abolished here—it was continued only for companies that had profits of £10,000 and over—at that time the rate of corporation profits tax was less even over the £10,000 limit. The income-tax was lower and surtax was payable only on incomes over £2,000. It is misleading to compare the positions theoretically. The fact is the individual had very much less to pay then.
In spite of the attitude taken by the Minister on the Committee Stage, I still think it was desirable to try to get him to meet the situation in the way I suggested. I know that it would not have wholly met the difficulty, but it would have confined the hardship to persons with incomes over £1,500. I thought I would try another way by suggesting that these persons should not be subject to sur-tax. It seems to me, and I still maintain, that it is unreasonable that they should be subject to both taxes. I cannot say that I put this amendment down with any great optimism, as the Minister stated in the course of his remarks that he had not yet received any complaints. At that, I am not at all surprised, because the number of persons who are going to be caught and who have already discovered it is few and far between. It will not be until corporation profits tax is assessed on the profits for the next trading year that they will discover it, and I felt that when these people find that they have to pay this inequitable and additional tax, they should know that there were some Senators who did see what was happening and did their best to remedy it.