Marriage and married couple’s allowance

It’s useful to know how Marriage and Married Couple’s Allowances work. They’re usually increased each year. Increases typically apply from the start of the tax year (6 April).

Marriage Allowance

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, one of you can transfer up to £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to the other.

This is just over 10% of the basic £12,570 Personal Allowance for the 2021-22 tax year. (Basic Personal Allowance is the amount of income you don’t have to pay tax on.)

This transferral reduces a partner’s tax by up to £252 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).

Marriage Allowance is sometimes referred to as the Marriage Tax Allowance.

You might qualify for Marriage Allowance if:

  • you’re married, or in a civil partnership and are not in receipt of Married Couple’s Allowance
  • you do not pay income tax or you earn less than your Personal Allowance so are not liable to tax. This will usually mean an income of less than £12,570 for 2021-22.
  • your partner pays tax on their income at the basic rate so is not liable to tax at the higher or additional rates. This will usually mean your partner ihas an income between £12,571 and £50,270 before they receive the Marriage Allowance. If you’re in Scotland, your partner must pay the starter, basic or intermediate rate, which usually means their income is between £12,571 and £43,662.

Marriage Allowance means the partner who earns more will get £1,260 added to their basic Personal Allowance.

Of the amount of money transferred to a partner as part of Marriage Allowance – 20% is given as a reduction in their tax bill. This is different from Personal Allowance – which is deducted from taxable income before tax is worked out.

Here’s an example – although this won't apply if you're in Scotland as the income tax bands there are different.

If you earn £30,000 a year, you’re a basic rate taxpayer. If your partner earns £8,000 a year, they’re a non-taxpayer. This means your household could be £252 better off:

Partner 1
-
Without Marriage Allowance
Including Marriage Allowance

Income

£30,000

£30,000

Personal Allowance

£12,570

£13,830

Income Tax

£3,486

£3,234

Tax saving

£0

£252

Partner 2
-
Without Marriage Allowance
Including Marriage Allowance

Income

£8,000

£8,000

Personal Allowance

£12,570

£11,310

Income Tax

£0

£0

Tax saving

£0

£0

In this example, when the non-taxpayer earns over £11,310 – Marriage Allowance is of less benefit. This is because the non-taxpayer would pay tax on income over £11,310 rather than £12,570 (the basic Personal Allowance amount.

The tax code of the partner receiving the Marriage Allowance will usually change to ‘M’.

This shows they’re getting Marriage Allowance from their partner.

If the partner who transferred their Personal Allowance is employed, their tax code will change to ‘N’. This shows they’ve elected to use the Marriage Allowance.

How to apply for Marriage Allowance

You can apply online to HMRC on the GOV.UK website All you need are your National Insurance numbers and identification.

You can also apply by calling 0300 200 3300.*

*Lines are open Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm, There may be call charges. See GOV.UK for details

Claiming Marriage Allowance for previous years

You need to meet the criteria for each year you apply for.

Keep in mind that the threshold for non-taxpayers and basic rate taxpayers is different according to the tax year you’re claiming for.

You can backdate your claim for up to four years.

You can apply online to HMRC on the GOV.UK website

Claiming Marriage Allowance if your partner has died

If your partner died after 2016, and you meet the other criteria for Marriage Allowance – you can still apply for the benefit.

You’ll be applying for a backdate of the benefit. So you’ll get the benefit as if you had applied for it from April 2016.

To apply for Marriage Allowance if you partner has died, call 0300 200 3300*

*Lines are open Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm. There may be call charges. See GOV.UK for details

Married Couple’s Allowance

Where one or both partners were born before 6 April 1935 might be able to claim a more generous allowance, called Married Couple’s Allowance. This means that one member of the couple must be at least 87 years old on 5 April 2022 to qualify for an allowance in the 2021/22 tax year.

For marriages before 5 December 2005, the husband’s income is used to work out Married Couple’s Allowance. Although it can be transferred to the wife.

For marriage and civil partnerships after this date, it’s the income of the highest earner.

Tax relief for the Married Couple’s Allowance is 10%. This means that the higher earning partner gets 10% of the tax they pay.

The benefit has upper and lower limits for both the amount of tax that can be claimed and how much that can be earned.

For the 2021-22 tax year, this could cut your tax bill between £353 and £912.50 a year.

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