As a fairly recent newly-wed, this one had passed me by until saw it flagged up on my Personal Tax Account. Although not eligible myself, it really was very simple to check, and so I’m keen to spread the word on this little-known perk of married life…

The Marriage allowance lets you transfer part of your unused personal tax allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner. To be eligible for this allowance, there are three main criteria:

  • You’re married or in a civil partnership
  • Your income is between £0 and £11,500
  • Your partner’s income is between £11,501 and £45,000 (£43,000 in Scotland)

You can claim if you are receiving a pension and/or if you are living abroad, as long as you get a personal allowance. You do not need to re-apply each year, as the allowance will automatically continue until HMRC hear otherwise. HMRC will also let you backdate your claim to 5 April 2015, which could boost your savings even more.

It is worth noting that if you or your partner were born before 6 April 1935, you might benefit by applying for Married Couple’s Allowance instead. You can find details of this on the GOV.UK website:

How do I apply?

The application process is very easy if you have set up your Personal Tax Account. Navigate to the Marriage Allowance section, and enter your partner’s name and National Insurance number. The rest will be done automatically and if your claim is successful, you will be notified by email within around 24hours and your partner’s tax code will be adjusted accordingly, or if they are self-employed – when they submit their tax return.

Your tax code will also change if you’re employed or receive a pension. Your new code will reflect your new Personal Allowance and will end with ‘N’.

It really is as simple as that.

You can submit a claim without a Personal Tax Account through the GOV.UK website: but this takes a little longer. You will need you and your partner’s National Insurance numbers and a way of proving your identity by either:

  • the last 4 digits of the account that your child benefit, tax credits or pension are paid into
  • the last 4 digits of an account that pays you interest
  • details from your P60
  • details from any of your 3 most recent payslips
  • your passport number and expiry date

You will then receive an email confirming your application with further instructions.

The third option is to apply via the HMRC helpline 0300 200 3300 and have your financial documents to hand.

Change of Circumstances?

Again, this is very easy to manage within your Personal Tax Account.

Either you or your partner can cancel at any time, although the date the allowance ends will depend on who cancels it and why. As a rule:

  • If you stop transferring the allowance to your partner, it will run until the end of the tax year (5 April).
  • If your partner asks to stop receiving your allowance, HMRC will backdate the change to the start of the tax year you first started transferring it.

This may be as a result of divorce or death, and it is your responsibility to keep HMRC up to date on your personal circumstances.

If your income changes, again contact HMRC via your Personal Tax Account and your claim will be re-calculated.

It really is worth checking…

Qualifying couples could reduce their tax bill by up to £230 in the current tax year. This might not seem much, but for the sake of spending around 1 minute on your Personal Tax Account, it is surprisingly easy to make a claim, and HMRC will even backdate this to 5 April 2015 which could increase your savings to over £600.

Recent figures suggest that over 2 million couples are missing out, so it really is worth checking.  If you need any assistance with your claim or setting up your Personal Tax Account, get in touch with your usual Lambert Chapman contact who will be happy to assist.


Posted by Katie Gardner

The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.

Lambert Chapman Chartered Accountants

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