Popping the question – marriage allowance

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but it is worth taking a moment out from your romantic interlude to check whether you are claiming marriage allowance, a handy tax break which is widely underused. Latest figures from HMRC show that two million taxpayers are not using the benefit, with only 1.8m signed up to the marriage allowance.

While there are a number of limitations on this benefit it is worth considering even though it may only be worth a few hundred pounds. On the plus side you can back claim for up to four years if you missed out.

The law has recently changed allowing heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships, and eligible civil partners are also able to claim the allowance, HMRC said.

Marriage allowance lets one partner transfer 10% of their personal allowance – currently £1,250 – to their husband, wife or civil partner if they earn more than them.

To claim marriage allowance all of the following factors must apply:
• married or in a civil partnership;
• do not pay income tax (for example, income is below personal allowance – currently £12,500);
• partner pays income tax at the basic rate, which usually means income is between £12,501 and £50,000 (£43,430 in Scotland).

Claims can be backdated by up to four years, currently to include any tax year since 5 April 2015 when the couple was eligible for marriage allowance.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: ‘Applying for marriage allowance is a quick and easy way for married couples and people in a civil partnership to have £250 or more put back in their pockets.

‘It’s fantastic to see so many couples have already put a few minutes aside to apply and we hope many more will sign up this Valentine’s Day to take advantage of this tax relief.’

Apply for the Marriage Allowance

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