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 234.

    Good. Why should married couples be given tax breaks and couples who choose not to get married don't? Tax breaks for married couples would be massively unfair and on this I applaud the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    I'm disappointing. This could have been the perfect opportunity for the government to strengthen society by providing practical help to those who choose to strengthen society through the institution of marriage.

    Instead the government has decided to weaken society by giving same sex relationships the same legal status as marriage. I expected better than this from a Conservative government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Look at the figures; by the time the oldest child is 15, most "partners" have split up, some long since. Marriage indicates commitment and leads to stability for chidren, so should be encouraged. Flitting in and out of "relationships" and scattering unwanted children behind one should be discouraged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    I suppose the govn't want to encourage stable relationships which benefit the raising of children.

    Can you explain how a tax break will help with this? Any marriage that is primarily based on getting to pay a little less tax probably won't achieve the goals you've stated. Only seems to be for people who need approval from govt for their life choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    I'll not bother then....despite being in a 10 yr relationship. They say you marry for love but if you're in love you don't NEED to marry do you? Seriously what's in it for me? I don't do jewellery, I hate being the centre of attention, I earn more than my man and have a better pension. Do I need a piece of paper to prove to others that we love each other? Give me a tax break and I'll consider it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Er... I stay at home and my tax allowance goes for nothing - while my wife pays tax on her salary without any recognition of our status.

    Doesn't sound like ANYONE wants marriage (or partnerships) to exist...

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    A balanced system for household income would be good. We have some friends in very similar circumstances with a similar combined income. The only difference is, they are both earning about the same and both on standard tax. Whereas, my wife is a poorly paid classroom assistant l and I am a senior engineer, paying higher rate tax. Yet as a family we pay considerably more tax than our friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    198.Sue Doughcoup

    "My partner is very disappointed with this move. Now there are few advantages being married to me."

    Beautifully put! You're not my missus by any chance, are you?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Tax break for married people, fine. Just give a bigger tax break for single people - costs alot more to live as a single after all. Then what about a bigger tax break for childless people as well what with the world being massively over-populated.
    I'm sure our married , 4x child prime minster will support these ideas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I suppose the govn't want to encourage stable relationships which benefit the raising of children.

    Seems fair enough to me

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    If Dave or any other claimed 'conservative' thinks a couple of hundred quid of OUR OWN money will be a sufficient bribe to make us forget this anti-democratic imposition of gay marriage, they're crazy. This will cost them the election - and the fact that they know this, and are proceeding anyway, shows what a sham this claimed democracy is. Doesn't matter who you vote for, the EU makes the laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    You didn't really expect Cameron or Osborne to give a tax break to married couples did you? They are too busy ensuring we pledge yet billions more to Africa, whilst everyone here can go hang.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Marriage is not the glue that holds families and society together, LOVE is... there are too many loveless marriages and tax breaks (or any other 'incentives' for that matter), simply encourage marriage for the wrong reason.
    The only reason for anyone to marry is love and that is all kids need to grow up happy & well balanced. Money doesn't come into it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Everything that Mr Cameron does is a knee jerk reaction to something else, it really is scary this man is making choices for us !

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    BBC: "No tax break for married couples"

    What kind of a statement is that? Of course there will be no tax break in the budget, he is saving up to buy votes in 2015 and despite people being hammered now by this government, people are thick enough to fall for it. Why should married couples get a tax break anyway?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    How about taking even more of the lowest paid out of the tax system instead of giving away money to couples who don't need it like my wife & myself!

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Marriage this Marriage that!
    Arn,t there more important things for the government to worry about?
    Maybe fixing the economy or the situation in North Africa?
    This is much more important then marriage surely!
    Is there anything happening this week more worthwhile?

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Regards singles and dinkies - birth rates are decreasing and will plummet as families continue to take a financial hiding.
    This won't, of course, affect young females from poorer backgrounds from fasttracking their way to accommodation given that their prospects are severely limited or zero
    We may also need to curb immigration but employers continue to demand ultra low cost ultra flexible labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    I'm angry that equal marriage status for same-sex couples is now suddenly the bait for marriage tax breaks (the two issues have NOTHING to do with each other yet the media (or politicians) have inextricably linked the two together). People who are angry about yet another broken tax pledge might now turn their anger against full and fair equality for same-sex couples.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    "Boundary changes...Cynical ploy by the Cons again.Anything goes so that they win at any cost"

    As Labour created those boundaries purely to increase their number of winnable seats, I hope you're not suggesting that they are any different?


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