How saying ‘I do’ can save you a pretty penny
Getting hitched can be one of the happiest days of our lives. Think of the everlasting love and commitment! Think of the party surrounded by family and friends! Think of the… cushty tax breaks!
Of course we’re not suggesting you enter into a legally binding life-long partnership purely for the tax perks, but if matrimony is for you and you meet a certain number of requirements, HMRC’s Marriage Allowance can save you up to £238 each year.
What is it?
The marriage allowance, introduced in 2015, lets lower earners transfer a portion of their personal tax allowance (the amount you are allowed to earn before income tax kicks in – £11,850 as of the 18/19 tax year) to their higher earning wife, husband or civil partner.
The maximum amount you can transfer is £1,190. This is added on to the higher earner’s personal tax allowance, meaning their total taxable income is reduced, resulting in tax savings of up to £238 throughout the year.
That’s nice, but give me some real-life figures
John is a student, and has a part-time job earning £6,500 a year. His personal allowance under which he won’t be taxed is £11,850, so he has some to spare.
His new wife, Jane, works full-time and earns £30,000 a year. She pays 20% tax on anything over her personal allowance (£30,000 – £11,850 = £18,150).
John transfers the maximum amount of £1,190 of his personal allowance to Jane. Her personal allowance now rises to £13,040, and her taxable income is reduced as a result (£30,000 – 13,040 = £16,960).
The amount Jane saves in tax is £238 (20% of £1,190) over the course of the year.
Who can apply?
- The lower earner must earn under £11,850.
- The higher earner must be a basic rate tax-payer only. This means they can earn between £11,851 and £46,350 (£43,430 if you’re north of the border in Scotland).
- You must be married or in a civil partnership! It sounds obvious, but there does need to be an actual marriage. Common-law marriage (kind of a myth in and of itself [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42134722]) ain’t going to cut it here.
- You were both born on or after 6th April 1935. For spouses born before this date, there’s a similarly-named-but-actually-totally-different-so-thanks-for-the-confusion tax break called Married Couple’s Allowance.
You can claim it if you’re self-employed, receiving a pension, or even if you are living abroad, as long as you still have a UK personal allowance. If you’ve only just been made aware of the allowance, as a bonus you can get it backdated to 2015 if you were eligible during previous years too.
As of November 2017, widows and widowers who were eligible but did not claim the marriage allowance while their partners were alive are allowed to make a retrospective claim for any tax year in which their partners lived, even if it wasn’t for the whole portion of the year.
How do I apply?
You can apply online [https://www.gov.uk/apply-marriage-allowance] or if you wanted to talk to a human being about it you can apply over the phone on 0300 200 3300. It’s super easy to do, and once you’re deemed eligible there’s no need to keep reapplying each year – HMRC will assume your circumstances are the same and the allowance will be automatically applied for subsequent years. The hardest part will be deciding what to do with your extra pennies!