David Cameron unveils marriage tax breaks plan

Wedding rings The prime minister said some four million couples would benefit from the move

Plans for some married couples to get tax breaks worth up to £200 a year have been announced by David Cameron.

The prime minister said four million couples would benefit from a £1,000 transferable tax allowance from 2015.

The move, announced ahead of the Tory conference, comes after a deal with the Liberal Democrats to introduce free school meals for children under eight.

Labour said Mr Cameron was "out of touch" if he thought the people would get married "for £3.85 a week".

The tax break would apply if couples are both basic rate tax payers with one spouse earning less than the personal allowance - the amount of income you can receive each year without having to pay tax on it. This will be just over £10,000 in 2015.

The measure would also include 15,000 couples in civil partnerships.

The basic tax rate of 20% is currently in place for up to £32,010 of taxable income. That means that - including a personal allowance - at current rates people would have to earn less than £41,451 a year to be eligible.

'Happiest day'

Benefits from the scheme would come through initially at the end of the tax year in 2016.

David Cameron: "Other countries recognise marriage properly in the tax system and that's what we're doing"

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Cameron said: "I believe in marriage. Alongside the birth of my children, my wedding was the happiest day of my life.

"Since then, Samantha and I have been a team. Nothing I've done since - becoming a Member of Parliament, leader of my party or prime minister - would have been possible without her.

"There is something special about marriage: it's a declaration of commitment, responsibility and stability that helps to bind families.

"The values of marriage are give and take, support and sacrifice - values that we need more of in this country."

He later tweeted: "The £1000 marriage tax allowance will apply to straight and gay couples, as well as civil partners. Love is love, commitment is commitment."

Election pledge

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the initiative, saying in a statement: "We welcome all support for married life and we're pleased that this initiative includes both married couples and those in civil partnerships."

Mr Cameron said stay-at-home mothers and women who worked part-time would be the main winners.


David Cameron and the Conservative party made a solemn commitment eight years ago.

He told them marriage should be recognised in the tax system.

Come the 2010 election campaign he renewed his vow.

Some backbenchers doubted he would make good on his pledge in this parliament.

As their conference begins, they are reassured, although they will fight for the tax break to be bigger in future.

The prime minister says he is not trying to bribe people to to get married or engage in social engineering.

Critics will ask why the government should spend £700m a year on a policy that is not designed to change anyone's behaviour.

Explaining how the scheme would work, he wrote: "From April 2015, if neither of you are higher rate taxpayers, you will be able to transfer £1,000 of your tax-free allowance to your spouse.

"In effect, if you pay the basic rate of tax and your partner doesn't use all of their personal allowance, you'll be able to have some of it.

"Most couples who benefit will be £200 a year better off as a result."

He promised tax breaks for married couples when he ran for the leadership of his party in 2005, and it was also part of the Conservative election manifesto in 2010.

The Liberal Democrats are opposed to the measure but under the coalition agreement they would not be able to vote against it in any parliamentary vote but could abstain.

The party's Treasury spokesman Stephen Williams branded the move "a tax cut for some, paid for by everyone else".

He said: "You don't build a fairer society by using the tax system to favour one type of family over another.

"We should support all families, not just the minority of married ones where one person stays at home."

It has been suggested the Lib Dems were able to announce plans for every child in England between reception and year two to get free school lunches in exchange for the Conservative's proposed tax break.

The free school meals policy will begin in September next year and will be worth about £437 per child.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that each political party had launched policies which were roughly equal in their cost.

"So the Liberal Democrats had something on free school meals, Labour had something on childcare, the Conservatives have got something on tax allowances," he said.

"Each one is a small lollipop in the context of £25bn of cuts being expected over the following two years - none of them have said much about how they're going to do that."

'All families'

Labour said the Conservatives were "out of touch" and the move was outweighed by higher VAT and cuts to child benefit and tax credits.

Ed Miliband's party said around two-thirds of married couples would not save money under the plans, including higher rate taxpayers and couples in which both partners earn more than the personal allowance.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves said: "The vast majority of children will see their parents get not a single extra penny from this so if you are a mum and dad and you're both earning £20,000-£25,000 a year, so on average earnings, you won't get any extra support.

"So it's not a proper tax allowance for married couples. And even for those who do benefit it's just £3.85 a week."

But Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the policy recognised the value of the institution of marriage.

"It is an institution that is the building block of our society and we want to recognise that and this is a measure that's going to help four million hard working couples where life is pretty tough."

Dr Samantha Callan, the director of families at the think tank Centre for Social Justice that seeks to address poverty and its causes, also welcomed the announcement.

"We've been calling for this since 2007," she said.

"We did a report into the state of the nation and why family breakdown is such a problem in the UK today. Half of all children born today will not still be with both their parents by the time they're 15 and marriage is a more durable relationship."

She added: "Ninety-three percent of all couples still together by the time the child is 15 are married."

'Promoting a fantasy'

Tim Yeo, the Conservative MP for South Suffolk, told BBC Radio Suffolk that while he welcomed any institutions that support stability in society, in 2013 marriage "is not the only model for a family".

"I don't see why, for example, someone who has been widowed, whether it's a man or a woman, at a young age, and is trying to bring up children perhaps on a relatively low income, I regret the fact that the current proposal may exclude those people," he said.

Campaign group Don't Judge My Family criticised the move as "promoting a fantasy 1950s family" and it would not benefit many of the families who needed most support..

The Conservative Party conference takes place in Manchester from Sunday. Mr Cameron will close the conference with his keynote speech on Wednesday.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Don't people marry for love not some squalid tax break?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    "Plans for some married couples to get tax breaks worth up to £200 a year have been announced by Cameron."

    Considering that families are over £1500 worse off since Dave took over. £200 is small beer by comparison & cheap bribe.
    Its going to take more than this to convince ordinary people to vote tory come the next election. In case you ain't noticed Dave £200 don't go very far these days

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.


    Get in your time machine and join UKIP supporters in the 1950s its pathetic to read drivel about marriage being the bedrock of society. we have moved on women are equal although UKIP would like to change that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Go self employed, create a limited company have your other half (married or not) as a director of the company on £125 per week, they get NI credited for the minimal payment they pay so goes towards their state pension, you get tax relief on their salary, far better than £200 per year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    "worth up to £200 a year"

    Can't be bothered working it out, but that makes some people less than 1p a day better off.

    What a grand idea from Clownshoe Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Why is that when politicians go to conference they want to give us things and when they go back to the day job they want to take things from us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Don't worry singletons, you aren't being done out of money. The average wedding costs £18000 apparently, so £200 per year "extra" will take 90 years of marriage before we are better off than you! By which time I will be long dead. These little extras will be paid for by us in other ways so it's really quite meaningless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    not that it's much money.... but a philandering man divorces his devoted wife leaving her with 3 kids to look after and marries his mistress.

    What has the woman done to deserve paying more tax?

    I believe in marriage, BUT it should not be part of the tax system it is simply unfair on those who aren't married and especially on people getting divorced through no fault of their own!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Married with 3 kids. We got stuffed with the child benefit changes for so-called higher earners and now this - pathetic. I'd settle for a fair way of taxing all families.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Some will get the tax break, where's the discrimination point then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    10. Greggers

    Still nothing for us singletons?!


    You should have grasped it by now; Single people are here to pay for everyone else's children - that's how it works now. It does not matter which government is in power, they all think the same of single people. You are stuffed mate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    From the whinging on here you'd think it was an extra tax. It's a tax break people. OK, it won't benefit everyone but few tax breaks do. It's like complaining that the Blind Persons Allowance isn't fair on those who are sighted. Jeez.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    It is not the responsibility of government to use the tax system for the purposes of social engineering. Give tax breaks to those that need it, not those who suit your own social agenda

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    UKIP looks more an more sane everyday. UKIP will tax people at 31% of the income made on individual income. no extra tax laws to win votes just fair tax rate. They will deal with the dept an stop paying billions to the EU an spend the billions on us instead. Which creates extra jobs and extra tax revenue that is all taxed at 31%. Simplicity is the key.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    £200 quid. Neither here nor there.
    What gets my goat is the way Cameron is trying to continually legitimise homosexual "marriage". A loving relationship there may be. A marriage it ain't

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Up until today I couldn't think of a single reason why I would want to get married. Or how that would strengthen my relationship.

    I still can't.

    Money well spent, eh!? What a ridiculous gimmick.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Wow....what to spend this extra money we'll get?? Hmm Loaf of bread and 2 pint of milk?? Last of the big spenders!

    It will make NO difference what so ever... it's hardly worth bothering about!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Thank goodness! At last a sensible policy from the conference season. Marriage is the bedrock of our society: the best environment for our childrens health and education: our future. So much better than Balls encouraging even more mothers to go out to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Jeremy Hunt: "Marriage ... is the institution that particularly helps to strengthen commitment in our society"

    Prove it! What a fatuous claim!


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