The Report of the Departmental Cominittee on the Income- tax
was issued on Monday. While admitting that the tax appears on the whole to be levied with a minimum of friction and a maximum of result, four-fifths being either assessed at the source or subjected to other methods of verification, the Committee find that where self-assessment is still requisite there is a great deal of fraud and evasion. They suggest as an improvement on the present system, under which about one-third of the forms sent out are never returned at all, that it should be made obligatory under a comparatively small penalty to fill up and return the Income-tax form. They also recommend greater conciseness and lucidity in the wording of the forms (which should be accompanied by a post-free and addressed return envelope), the extension of the powers of punishment, the publication of the names and addresses of fraudulent evaders, and the right of the Department to demand from employers not only the names of those liable to the tax, but the amount of the salaries paid. To combat evasion without rendering the tax more unpopular is the aim of the recommendations put forward by the Departmental Committee. In the abstract we readily admit their soundness. At the same time, we cannot help dreading any change which may tend to make the Income- tax odious, or liable to be denounced as odious. The present mildness of the inquisition no doubt causes loss, but it also dis- arms any attempt to represent the Income-tax as offensive and oppressive.