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Marriage Allowance

Pauline Goldsmith - November 6th, 2017

The Marriage Allowance is a tax allowance relevant to many of our clients. It was introduced by HMRC in April 2015 and media reports suggest that not all of those eligible to claim it have done so which could mean many couples missing out on a tax saving of £230 for 2017/18.

Who is eligible?

The conditions which all need to be satisfied in order to make a successful claim are:-.

  • Partners must either be married, or in a civil partnership and both must be born after 6 April 1935 (if you or your partner were born before this date then you may be able to claim Married Couples Allowance instead)


  • One partner is paying tax at the basic rate of 20% i.e. with income above the personal allowance but within the basic rate tax band, so between £11,501 and £45,000 for 2017/18 (or £43,000 if you are in Scotland)


  • The other partner has income below the personal allowance of £11,500 i.e. a non-taxpayer for the current 2017/18 tax year

How it works

The Marriage Allowance is a transfer of 10% of the personal allowance from the non-taxpayer to their spouse or civil partner. For the current 2017/18 tax year this is a transfer of £1,150 of unused personal allowance. The tax saving is then calculated as the basic rate tax saving on this allowance, so the maximum tax saving available is £230 (£1,150 x 20%). Claims can be backdated two tax years so there is a chance that tax savings could be greater.

As the amount of personal allowance available for transfer is 10% (no more, no less) this could result in an over-transfer being made if the non-taxpaying spouse has less than £1,150 of their personal allowance available. However, this may still result in an overall tax saving as the amount over-transferred by the non-taxpayer would result in a basic rate tax liability but it would create a corresponding basic rate tax saving for the spouse receiving the extra allowance.

It is important to note that the Marriage Allowance is available for transfer to basic rate taxpayers only. If an incorrect claim is made, for example from a non-taxpayer to their higher rate taxpaying spouse or civil partner then the tax relief claimed will be repayable to HMRC so it is important to be sure that you are eligible before making the claim.

How to make a claim

If the above conditions are satisfied, the claim must be made by the non-taxpaying spouse or civil partner, this can be done online through the HMRC website or by telephoning them on 0300 200 3300.

Once the claim has been made, if you complete a Self-Assessment Tax Return, it is reflected on your Tax Return and your tax liability will be reduced accordingly.

If you are employed, you will receive tax relief through the tax code applied to your earnings which HMRC should amend following a Marriage Allowance claim.

Recent changes

Philip Hammond mentioned in his Budget speech that government will from 29th November 2017 allow Marriage Allowance claims on behalf of deceased spouses and civil partners. He also announced that the Marriage Allowance claim could be backdated for up to four years where the entitlement conditions were adhered to.

When does Marriage Allowance stop?

Once an application for the Marriage Allowance has been made it should remain in place until either spouse contacts HMRC to cancel it, or circumstances change e.g. as a result of divorce or increased income above £45,000 for 2017/18 for the higher earning spouse.

How we can help

At Richard Sexton and Co we endeavour to consider allowances and reliefs available to all of our clients, however if you believe you may be entitled to the Marriage Allowance and are not currently claiming it please contact us to discuss this in the case of your individual circumstances.

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