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The Marriage Allowance: check your eligibility

With recent research revealing that more than 2.9 million couples in the UK have yet to claim the Marriage Allowance, we review the key features of the initiative, and highlight how you could stand to benefit.

Introduced in April 2015 by the former Chancellor, George Osborne, the Marriage Allowance permits eligible spouses to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their partner. However, figures from HMRC have revealed that of the alleged 4.2 million couples eligible for the tax break, only around 1.3 million have actually claimed it.

The Marriage Allowance is only available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. Therefore, the couples most likely to benefit are those where one of the spouses has little or no income and the other spouse is earning between £11,501 and £45,000 (£43,000 for those in Scotland).

What are the financial benefits?

For 2017/18, when the personal allowance is set at £11,500, eligible taxpayers can transfer £1,150 to their spouse. This will reduce their tax liability by up to £230 in the current tax year.

However, it is possible to backdate a claim for the Marriage Allowance to include any tax year since 6 April 2015 that the couple was eligible for the tax break. The tax bill of a recipient of the Marriage Allowance was reduced by up to £212 in 2015/16 and £220 in 2016/17. As a result, eligible couples who have so far failed to claim the relief may be owed a tax repayment of up to £432!

How do I apply?

Couples are able to register for the Marriage Allowance at If the application is successful, any changes to your personal allowances will be backdated to the beginning of the tax year. HMRC will refund those with successful applications by either changing their tax code, or by altering their Self Assessment Tax Return (if they are self-employed).

In future years the allowance will transfer automatically to the spouse until either of the couple cancels the Marriage Allowance or there is a change in circumstances – which means a potential reduction in the annual tax bill of more than £200.

For more information on the Marriage Allowance, please contact us.