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What is marriage allowance?

Marriage allowance is a government scheme that allows you to transfer some of your personal tax allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner.

If you or your partner has an income of less than £12,570, you may be able to benefit from marriage allowance.

Marriage allowance allows you to transfer 10% of your tax-free personal allowance to your partner if they earn more than you do. This could reduce their tax bill by up to £252 every tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).

You can also backdate any claim to include tax years from 5 April 2017 onwards. Even if your husband, wife or civil partner has since passed away – you may still be able to claim. 

Who can apply for marriage allowance?

To be eligible for this allowance, all of the following need to apply:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership

  • one of you doesn’t pay income tax

  • the other person in the relationship pays income tax at the basic 20% rate

     

    This usually means one of you has an income of less than the personal tax allowance (£12,570 for most people in the 2021/22 tax year) and the other has an income between £12,571 and £50,270 (£12,571 and £43,662 for Scottish tax payers).

Your income includes your earnings and other income, such as: 

  • employment benefits, like a company car

  • pension income

  • any savings interest or dividends

If any of these apply, you should have received a tax code letter about it. 

Find out more about what your tax code means on the GOV.UK website. 

How does marriage allowance work?

Here's an example of how marriage allowance can help.

Tom works part-time as a caretaker at a local school and earns £10,000 a year. This is below the standard personal allowance of £12,570, so he doesn't pay any income tax. 

His wife Susie has a full-time job as a graphic designer on an annual salary of £25,000. That's more than the £12,570 personal allowance, but lower than the £50,270 threshold for the 40% higher rate. So she pays income tax at the basic rate of 20%.

Tom can transfer 10% of his ‘unused’ tax-free allowance (£1,257) to Susie, so her personal allowance goes up to £13,827. As a result, an extra £1,257 of what she earns is now tax-free, which means she pays £251.40 less in tax.

Things to remember

This allowance is only for those who are married or in a civil partnership - living together as a couple unfortunately doesn't count.

Marriage tax allowance is for couples who were both born on, or after, 5 April 1935.

If either (or both) of you were born before that date, you may be able to claim the married couple’s allowance instead. You're unable to claim both marriage allowance and married couple’s allowance at the same ti

Next steps

You can apply online for marriage allowance on the GOV.UK website.

Before applying, you can use this calculator to work out how much tax you could save.