From 6 April 2015 married couples and civil partners could benefit from an annual tax reduction through a new marriage allowance. Couples could see an annual tax reduction of up to £212, or around £17.66 a month.
The marriage allowance will allow a spouse or civil partner who is not using all of their personal allowance to transfer up to 10 per cent to their spouse, provided the spouse is not a higher rate tax payer.
For 2015/16, a spouse or civil partner, with total income of less than £10,600 can transfer up to £1,060 of their personal tax-free allowance to their higher-income spouse or civil partner. The person receiving the transfer must have an annual income of between £10,601 and £42,385.
For example, if one person earns £5,000 and their partner earns £20,000, the lower earner can transfer £1,060 of their unused allowance to the higher earner. The higher earner can take home an additional £1,060 tax-free, meaning they will pay £212 less tax over the year.
However, if one person earns £10,000 and their partner earns £20,000, they will only be allowed to transfer £600 of their allowance to their spouse. This would result in paying £120 less tax over the year.
It is estimated about 4 million married couples and 15,000 couples in civil partnerships will be eligible for the tax break. It is designed to benefit low and medium earning couples where one spouse does not work, or works part-time, and as such much of their personal tax allowance goes unused.
Eligible couples are able to register their interest for marriage allowance at gov.uk/marriageallowance. Registering for marriage allowance can only be completed online; it is not possible to register for marriage allowance by calling HMRC.
The spouse or partner with the lower income registers their interest in transferring their personal allowance. HMRC will then send an email explaining when couples will receive an invitation to apply.
There is no disadvantage for those who do not register their interest; they will be able to make an application during the tax year 2015 to 2016 and still receive the full allowance.
Couples born before 1935 benefit from the separate Married Couples Allowance.