Budget 2013: No tax break for married couples

Wedding rings Tory backbenchers are linking tax breaks for married couples to plans for gay marriage

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The government will not introduce a tax break for married couples in next month's Budget, it has emerged.

There had been speculation David Cameron would bring in the measure to appease Tory backbenchers who are opposed to gay marriage.

However legislation is expected to be introduced before 2015 to allow couples to transfer part of their personal tax allowance to their partner.

The Commons will vote next week on the government's plans for gay marriage.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, where a religious institution had formally consented, in England and Wales.

It would also allow couples who have previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young said the tax news had to be seen in the context of the highly contentious vote on gay marriage, with dozens of Tory MPs opposed to it.

The two issues are linked in their minds because they say it is about Mr Cameron's priorities, putting gay marriage ahead of married tax breaks.

Some of them say it will increase anger and consternation on the backbenches, our correspondent added.

'Serious unrest'


The decision not to include a tax break for married couples in next month's budget has to be seen within the context of Tuesday's vote on same-sex marriage.

Introducing the tax break remains part of the coalition programme, but there had been suggestions that David Cameron would introduce them earlier than planned.

The idea was that the move would pacify MPs who complain that gay marriage, which wasn't in the last Tory manifesto, is being prioritised over the tax break, which was.

Strictly, this shouldn't be seen as a potential rebellion, as Conservative MPs are expected to be offered a free vote on Tuesday. But David Cameron is a vocal supporter of gay marriage.

So, to have a significant number of his MPs (one backbencher today suggested more than half) voting against him would be embarrassing.

After a week which has been full of talk of a possible leadership challenge from the backbenches, the prime minister's relationship with some sections of his party looks in need of some marriage guidance.

The tax measure is in the coalition agreement but Liberal Democrat MPs would be allowed to abstain.

It is expected that one stay-at-home member of a married couple or civil partnership would be able to move £750 of their tax-free personal allowance to their working partner, reducing their tax bill. This would be worth about £150 a year to basic-rate taxpayers.

A senior government source said: "It won't be in the Budget but it will be in this parliament. This Budget obviously, with all that has happened in recent weeks and months, will be very much focused on growth in the economy".

According to the Times, the issue of gay marriage is causing Conservative members to leave the party in significant numbers.

The newspaper claimed that as many as 100 members had revoked their affiliation in some constituencies.

Tory MP David Burrowes is quoted as saying: "There's serious unrest in the grassroots. You cannot avoid the fact that the troops are unhappy. People are drifting away."

'Definition of marriage'

He told the BBC that had the government introduced the tax breaks, it may have "softened the blow" of plans to legalise same-sex marriage, but that it would not have been a "clinch for any deal".

He also said it was an "issue of finance" as to why tax breaks for married couples were not being introduced in the forthcoming Budget, but said it was not "a case of if, it's a case of when" they would eventually come in.

"It is something that should be a priority, not just because it's a commitment in our manifesto and a coalition agreement, but also because it's where we can particularly support the poorest of families by ensuring there is a tax allowance for married couples with children."

He also said: "Civil partnerships, quite rightly, give legal rights for same-sex couples. That doesn't mean we should change the definition of marriage, which is between a man and a woman."

Conservative MP Peter Bone is opposed to gay marriage and believes the vote shows the coalition has got its priorities wrong.

"I absolutely understand there could be a debate about it but as no party had it in their manifesto we shouldn't be pushing it through now," he said.

"I'm always being told we can't get any measures through because it's not in the coalition agreement."

But a Tory supporter of the bill, Jane Ellison, says the policy is winning the party new support.

"A great many people, a great many young people support this measure and their voice is really important in politics too," she told the BBC.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the UK's "complicated tax system makes it harder for people to start a family" and can discriminate against married couples.

"Introducing an allowance that lets families share some of their personal allowance would help tackle poverty and reduce the perverse disincentives created by our dysfunctional tax code."

Conservative MPs will get a free vote on whether to introduce same-sex marriage. Labour and the Lib Dems have backed the idea.

The bill will allow religious organisations to offer same-sex marriages but Equalities Minister Maria Miller has said no religious organisation "will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    "79. frankiecrisp
    Why should two people on £40.000 a year pay less tax than a single person on £40.000."

    They do, 2x personal allowance means less tax on overall earnings of 2 people with joint income of £40,000

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Isn't this part of the equalisation of homosexual "marriage" and civil partnership?

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Trying to buy votes dave?

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Vicki Young does make a point, and that is Dave seems all consumed with gay marriage which doesn't appear in the manifesto. Is this Dave's personal agenda for reasons best known to himself, though he was at Eton an all boys school, or is he following the agenda of others unknown. Is someone pulling his strings?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Its was worth even with inflation not very much, unlike now!

    "It was modified in 1977, with the payments being termed "child benefit" and given for the eldest child as well as the younger ones; by 1979 it was worth £4 per child per week. In 1991, the system was further altered"

    I was born in 1974

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    "Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the UK's "complicated tax system makes it harder for people to start a family"

    I think I might use that as an excuse, it certainly rivals "I've got one of my headaches coming on."

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The first decision by this mob that I can get onboard with.

    Not because giving tax breaks is wrong (its clear they give the rich every chance to extend their wealth at the expense of the rest), but because marriage isn't the choice for many regardless of sexual preference.

    Also, I don't know the finer details of it to be fair but why should being in a relationship entitle you to a break?

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    "Children suffer...the reality is a man and a man can't breed and neither can a woman and woman"

    But they can adopt, and a woman can have given birth (& a man could have fathered) in a previous heterosexual relationship prior to a gay marriage.

    Would you be happy for those particular children to suffer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    If I ever vote again, it will be UKIP. As a life-long conservative I had hoped that the much-touted "Family Values" that Cameron harped on about would promote families and what they contribute to the future (i.e.: children). Yet again, nothing is being done and what little we have is being squandered in policies that simply don't work. Bring back MIRAS and have done with it. It worked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I may be hugely unpopular in saying this, but as a married woman I don't agree with such a thing as a tax break just for being married. Why do I deserve it more than a committed couple, raising children, who just happen to not have signed a bit of paper. Or a hard working, rent/bill/tax paying single person? I don't. Marriage is a choice, in this day and age it shouldn't equal special privileges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Have a go at amrried people, have a go at hetrosexual people, have a go at Catholics. What a great country we have, media driven no less so thanks BBC, your leftist middleclass dreams come true.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Me and my partner have been together for 45 years . Now retired we gays were formally classed as "single" and taxed as such all our working lives . Hetero couples have always been entiled to tax and welfare breaks.
    We're satisfied with our Civil Agreement , which actually entitles us to NO tax breaks . Moreover , we don't agree , by centuries of custom and practice, to "Marriage" for gays .

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Cameron couldn't possibly give in on this; he might as well just announce that from now on, the hardline Right are writing his manifesto. He's already let UKIP write his European policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Something the all in it together party just do not understand is fairness.
    Allowing a married couple to have their tax affairs treated as a couple is just fairer than the current system that is great if both partners earn the same but unfair on most other married couples.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Extra tax allowances for married couples is a step back in time (like many conservative ideals). I was widowed with a young child many years ago and at that time the married women I worked with (double income households) paid less tax on their salary than I did, as my widow's allowance was taxable. Stupid idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Why should two people on £40.000 a year pay less tax than a single person on £40.000.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    When I was a lad there were no child tax credits, and no my single mother, there were no baby voucher etc

    Family allowance effectively child tax credit was introduced in 1948 Vouchers in the form of Free School Milk started in 1937 some forms of free state paid child care have been available since 1890 so that makes you at least 124!

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Shame.Might as well cancel my Wedding plans now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    71.David H
    Its ok for someone who chooses animals in there life to watch them starve or if they are ill suffer because of inflated vets bills, but heaven forbid my neighbour cannot buy her kids a plasma TV each to play on their Playstations & Xboxes, and all go to America every year,while she gets into her new car,all that I am paying for with my increased tax! so she gets her credits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Children suffer because same sex partnerships are not marriages and therefore politicians have to be seen to be inclusive but the reality is a man and a man can't breed and neither can a woman and woman, it's called science.


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