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August 2017

HMRC figures show that just two in five couples are claiming the marriage allowance – the tax scheme introduced in 2015 by David Cameron to help married couples and civil partners pay less tax. With take-up being so low, it’s clear there is a general lack of awareness and understanding of the scheme.

How does the marriage allowance work?

The scheme enables people who earn less than the personal allowance (currently £11,500) to transfer up to £1,150 of their unused personal allowance to their husband, wife or civil partner. In practice, this means a current tax saving of £230 per tax year. But it is possible to backdate the claim to 5 April 2015 – so the tax savings can add up.

Who is it aimed at?

The marriage allowance is designed to benefit couples where one partner either isn’t working, or is perhaps in part-time employment. The following criteria apply:

  • You must be married or in a civil partnership.
  • One spouse needs to be earning less than the personal allowance of £11,500.
  • The other spouse must earn more than the personal allowance and be a basic-rate taxpayer (i.e. earning between £11,501 and £45,000).

However, the following exemptions apply:

  • Couples who are not married or in a civil partnership are not eligible.
  • You cannot apply if one partner is a higher-rate taxpayer, regardless of how much the other partner earns.

Making use of the marriage allowance

We want to make sure everyone eligible takes advantage of the marriage allowance, and avoids paying unnecessary tax. So if you qualify, you really should be claiming the allowance. After all, every little scrap of tax advantage adds up!

It’s easy to apply, and you don’t need any professional help – just complete the online application on the GOV.UK website.

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