The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Tax Resistance in Liverpool.

The Women’s Freedom League heartily congratulates Mrs. F.N. Hall and her husband, who have made a splendid protest against the taxation of unrepresented women. The auctioneer, who is in sympathy with the suffragists, refused to take commission. The following interesting particulars are sent by Mrs. Hall.

The Tax which my husband and I resisted was the Property Tax. This comes under Income-tax, Schedule A. The Income-tax Act of 1842, Section 45, which still holds good, stipulates that no married woman shall be held liable for taxation. It reads: “Provided always that the profits of any married woman living with her husband shall be deemed to be the profits of the husband and the same shall be charged in the name of the husband and not in her name nor of her trustee.” Therefore it is easily seen that all demands made upon a married woman for payment of taxes, all attempts to enforce payment for same, or even to ask her to furnish particulars of her property or income are absolutely illegal on the part of the Somerset House officials and thus they themselves become law-breakers. Such unscrupulous proceedings of the Treasury officials have time after time been made known to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the sufferers themselves, the Executive of the W.F.L. and the Women’s Tax-Resistance League on behalf of married women, and also through questions asked and debated on by Members in the House of Commons — all so far without result. Year after year this Government Department still continues (illegally) to take advantage of the ignorance of married women to the extent of nearly £2,000,000, and I for one conscientiously and deliberately refuse, at any price, to condone this unjust and tyrannical misuse of power. The Government must either carry out this Statute-Section 45 of the Income-tax Act and obtain these taxes direct from the person liable — i.e., the husband, or they must repeal the Law of Coverture on which this Statute is based and allow the Married Woman’s Property Act of 1882 (which in all these cases they deliberately ignore) to take its place — they cannot play fast and loose with both laws to suit themselves. Under the Married Woman’s Property Act a taxpayer is dealt with as a person; under the Law of Coverture she does not exist. It is to establish the principle that I am a person and that my taxation must carry along with it representation that I refuse now, and ever shall refuse, to pay one penny towards taxation until “imperial votes” are given to women taxpayers as well as to men taxpayers.

The Government Department, after long correspondence, at last acknowledged my non-liability (thus clearly establishing the non-liability of all married women), but laid the liability on my husband. So I won my point. He refused to acknowledge this, as under the Married Woman’s Property Act, which absolutely — when allowed to be used — annuls the earlier one of “coverture,” I am responsible for my own debts on my own property; this was the position he took up, that as I was the owner and occupier of this property under the provisions of the Married Women’s Property Act I was the responsible person. The distraint, however, was made on the goods in his name, though for my debt. I have still to be sued for the “Inhabited House Duty,” but shall take a similar course of “refusing to pay.”

For the sake of all married women and sympathetic husbands, I should like the position made widely known. I have heard of dozens of married women here in Liverpool who only want to have definite information to work from, and who are perfectly willing to “follow my lead.”

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