Plans for marriage tax breaks to be published 'shortly'

Married couple Conservative MPs say that married couples are currently disadvantaged in the tax system

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David Cameron has said the government will bring forward proposals for a transferable tax allowance for married couples and civil partners "shortly".

The BBC understands it will happen some time in the autumn.

Mr Cameron has been under pressure from Tory backbenchers to honour a plan for tax breaks made in the 2010 manifesto.

Labour opposes the idea and the Lib Dems were given a specific opt-out in the coalition agreement which means they do not have to support it.

Under plans being considered, wives and husbands who do not work and pay no income tax would be able to transfer part of their annual tax-free allowance to their spouse if their partner earns less than the higher rate of tax, which currently kicks in for people earning £41,451 or more.

In 2010, the Tories said it would make four million married couples and civil partners £150 a year better off.

'Close vote'

No detail is yet clear about the amount of transferable allowance proposed now, but it would only apply to basic rate taxpayers and may not be in force before the next election.

Start Quote

The government is going to do this itself, very shortly”

End Quote David Cameron

It is understood that the proposals could be unveiled to Parliament at the time of the Autumn Statement, around the end of November.

Mr Cameron said: "The point is that we are going to be putting in place the marriage tax proposal in law.

"We will be announcing plans for that in this Parliament, quite shortly in fact."

BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said putting a timescale on the proposal should help the government head off an attempt made this week by one of its own backbenchers, former minister Tim Loughton, to amend the finance bill in favour of such an allowance.

But with Labour against the idea, and the Lib Dems allowed to abstain on it, any vote in the future would be very close, he added.

'Help all families'

The prime minister said he had not seen Mr Loughton's proposed change to the Finance Bill, but added: "I don't think that the amendment is in line with the plans that we have.

"The government is going to do this itself, very shortly, so I think we should let the government get on with it, itself."

The Tory manifesto said recognising marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system would "send an important signal that we value couples and the commitment that people make when they get married".

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called the proposals "patronising drivel that belong in the Edwardian age".

For Labour, shadow treasury minister Catherine McKinnell said: "At a time when the Government's failed economic policies mean living standards are falling, we should be helping all families and not just some.

"Millions of people who are separated, widowed or divorced, as well as married couples where both partners work and use all their personal allowance, won't get any help from this out of touch policy."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    84 SeeDubya

    Yes! Mr Cameron does believe there are ladies who stay at home all day baking, while hubby goes out to work to bring in dosh? At least in tiny charmed circle he lives in. We are talking about very old fashioned Tory land here. Ladies in big hats who go to church, steer their daughters into marrying for money?

    These old style Tory people have no connection with majority of UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Nooo. First these Tories want to influence my feelings about my beloved Scotland by annoyingly trying to make me feel I could well be betraying Scotland by also wanting to confess I also feel British. Having to put down UK annoyed me for years until I suddenly realised how funny it was to say we are all feel united with our neighbours.

    Now they think I should marry...

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Why can't they file jointly as they do in the USA? No extra tax breaks just the ability to pool the income and tax allowances. One higher earner couples or one earner couples benefit as the tax take is spread across the couple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    61: I am fully aware how it works but the fact remains that I pay into the system and can expect a pay out. It works the same way with any insurance; your premiums are not hoarded for your future use but you are covered when needed. This is a very poor justification for the government handing out tax payers money to 'encourage' child bearing. Have them if you want them; if not, don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Johnny Dash @ 93 said:
    "[This] is a very Cynical move to help quiet the backbenchers who are unhappy with his recent backing of Liberal policy on same sex union."

    Agreed, that's why it's a good move.

    But don't confuse political wrangling with principle.

    In general terms, marriage is a good thing and needs to be encouraged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Just you wait, next week there will be a £150 wedding tax introduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    It's a basic fact of live that if one parent chooses to stay at home, a family will be less well of financially, and that choice is rightly made by families and not the government. I'm glad the government wants to offer some help to stay at home parents, to recognise the important work they do. And it won't alter fact that families with 2 working parents will still be better off financially.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    41 Minutes ago

    3. Revolution
    Speaking as a single person, why the hell should married couples get tax breaks?
    Because, what goes around comes around, we were all single at some point but I realised that married people were different to me. And realised that if I were to be married then they would apply to me also, and I also could see further than the end of my selfish nose

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    In theory this sounds good, but in practice it's lunacy. All tax breaks have to be paid for by cuts elsewhere - now is not the time to introduce this measure. A pipe dream.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Can't happen, won't happen. Such a change in the law would discriminate against those who do not enter into a legal marriage contract (forget the religious aspect, irrelevant) for whatever reason (e.g. relatives, etc.). There is no way any Court could interpret it as ECHR compliant.


  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Tax policy shouldn't be built around private, personal life choices. By financially enouraging one particular choice the Gov. are backing it over the others. But we are supposed to be a secular society that provides an equal basis for those who wish to marry as well as for those who don't. Equality for all in law: that is all there should be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    There are no gay rights, civil rights, tax rights blah blah...

    There are only individual rights. We are all individuals, regardless of your sexual orientation, and should be treated purely upon that basis: equally. Change the Act from man or woman to "person" or "people" and we're done paying for expensive hot air from political animals appealing for popularity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    45. RunningBear "This is a good move"- No it is a very Cynical move to help quiet the backbenchers who are unhappy with his recent backing of Liberal policy on same sex union. If Cameron wants to help married couples he would deal with rising fuel bills, cut vat on Petrol, tackle the rising cost childcare etc. £150.00 a year compared to the stagnant wages and impact of Austerity? No contest!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I can just tell this is going to end up in the European Court ….

    Until 2006 Scotland had “marriage by cohabitation with habit and repute”, it will take a more learned mind than mine to establish whether a couple (who got together either side of 2006) technically are married, or not – as the case may be, and different laws apply to other parts of the United Kingdom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Tax breaks for married couple and those in civil partnerships?

    Could that be read as tax breaks for the core Tory voter, those who share the current Governemnts Dickensian values?

    I thought Gerrymandering was banned in the UK.

    You haven't bought my vote. You're destroying too much to give benefit to the few.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    A fair few comments on here about two incomes so why the tax break. Think they're missing the point. This is about one income marriages, where one party stays at home.
    This is not important.
    What should be focused on is the MPs pay rise. Now that is scandalous!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    "Those who are trying to point out that their children will pay for my pension seem to be forgetting that I am in fact paying towards my own pension through National Insurance contributions each month."

    And you think that your contributions have been safely stashed away somewhere? Like it or not you NEED the next generation of tax payers to pay tax for your retirement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    @ 74 - It's not giving money away, it's letting people keep their own money, and it doesn't go nearly far enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    "I want"
    "I want"
    "I want"
    "I want"


    Running Bear was right.

    Idiotic social engineering is leading towards a society where minorities rule and children are produced as possessions.

    And stop this ridiculous creation of a childcare industry for absent 'owners'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I'm married.
    I have kids.

    ...and I lose out yet again based on this latest pointless costly proposal.

    I'm not moaning....just pointing out to all the singletons & childless that are moaning that TAX is never black & white.

    A FLAT RATE tax rate for rich, poor, old, young, married, single, gay, straight etc. would be fair for all IMHO.
    25% on everything over 10K. Simple, cheap & fair.


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