The recent debate in the States Assembly on mandatory independent taxation generated an interesting discussion; real food for thought; and also created a good deal of confusion.
The debate usefully exposed some of the strongly held views which Members have about the old tax regime where a wife’s income is deemed to be her husband’s for the purposes of the tax law. We heard some impassioned accounts of how various forms of discrimination in the tax system can lead to financial coercion, not to mention age and sex discrimination.
The primary focus of our discussion was Deputy Farnham’s proposal to remove the proposed compulsory element of independent taxation for married couples and civil partners (resident in Jersey before 2022).
The rejection of Part A of the proposition (which asked that independent taxation should not be mandatory for those currently obliged to file jointly) seemed at odds with the adoption of Part B asking me to take steps to keep joint filing for those who already do file jointly.
The Assembly voted to reject Part C of the Proposition (effectively calling for modernisation of the old tax regime so that it could run alongside independent taxation). The Assembly also rejected Part D of the proposition which was an amendment from Deputy Alves which would have extended some of the potential benefits of the old tax regime to people who have become fully independently taxed since 2022.
Almost half of the Assembly expressed a desire for some degree of optionality around filing obligations so that, where a married couple would have to file two tax returns that they had the opportunity still to file just one.
My Assistant Ministers and I will be working closely with officers and States Members to see how best to square the circle we have been presented with.
I hope to bring revised proposals to the Assembly in the autumn which still builds on the vast wealth of feedback we got from islanders in surveys and focus groups in recent years.
It remains the case that anyone married or civilly-partnered since 2022 (or who comes to Jersey in a marriage or civil partnership) is in full independent taxation.
It is important for Islanders that we help them to stay informed about these developments and their implications. I hope to be able to bring further clarity in the Autumn.
More information about independent taxation is available on the Government’s website. Independent Taxation (gov.je)