It is now over two years since the Marriage Allowance was introduced and perhaps it is no surprise to learn that most people who are eligible have not claimed the allowance. The allowance lets certain individuals transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner. This reduces the tax bill of the recipient of the transfer by up to £212 in 2015/16 and up to £220 in 2016/17. So for anyone who hasn’t claimed it yet, they may be due a tax repayment of up to £432.
The main scenario in which the transfer is allowed and worthwhile is where:
- one of the spouses has little income and is therefore not using the personal allowance
- the other spouse does not pay tax at the higher or additional rate
The default route for applying is online. If you are an employer, it is a good idea to signpost your employees to gov.uk/marriage-allowance-guide. This link gives full information as to eligibility, how to apply and a link to the online application. As we have just passed the end of a tax year, couples should have a good idea as to whether they qualified in 2016/17. If a successful application is made, changes to the personal allowances are backdated to 6 April 2015. 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 an annual potential reduction in tax bills of over £200.