More than one million couples across the UK have not claimed marriage allowance – meaning they could be owed up to £900 in tax rebates from HMRC.
Marriage allowance, first introduced in April 2015, allows couples to lower their tax bill for in certain circumstances, but almost a quarter of eligible couples have failed to claim it.
Which? explains who is eligible, how much you stand to benefit and how to claim.
Who can claim marriage allowance?
Marriage allowance has existed since April 2015, but to date, just three million couples have claimed it, according to figures from HMRC.
It estimates that more than a million married and civil partner couples are eligible, but have yet to submit a claim.
This is how it works: everyone has a ‘personal allowance’, which is the amount you’re able to earn before paying income tax. In 2018/2019, this is £11,850.
In couples where one earns less than the personal allowance, and so pays no tax, that person can transfer up to £1,190 of unused personal allowance to their partner.
This brings down the partner’s tax bill and allow them to keep more of their income. But the partner must be a basic-rate taxpayer, meaning they earn less than £46,350 in 2018/2019 – if they pay tax at the higher or additional rate, they won’t be eligible.
Couples must be either married or in a civil partnership to benefit.
You can take our quiz to work out if you’re eligible.
How much could you earn?
If you’re able to transfer a maximum amount of the personal allowance – so, you earn less than £10,660 this year – your partner will be entitled to keep an extra £238 from their income.
Even better, you’re able to back-date your claim for any tax year since 5 April 2015, which could boost your payment up to £900 if you were eligible in all years.
So, if you’re already receiving marriage allowance, make sure you’ve also claimed for previous years you were eligible.
Generally, HMRC will adjust your partner’s tax code, so the extra allowance will be paid out through their salary. Alternatively, if they’re self-employed, it will be paid via their self-assessment tax return.
Your tax code will also change if you’re employed or receiving a pension – you can find out more in our guide to understanding your tax code.
For back-dated claims, sums of up to £662 will be paid out as a lump sum after you’ve made your application.
- Find out more: marriage allowance – everything you need to know
How can you claim?
If you want to claim marriage allowance, you can apply online at the government’s web portal – though you’ll need to supply a range of personal and tax information.
When applying, you can also opt to back-date your claim to include previous years.
From then, HMRC will automatically transfer any unused personal allowance to your partner until one of you cancels the allowance.
If your partner has died since 5 April 2015, you can still put in a claim back-dated for years that you were eligible.
Married Couple’s Allowance
If one member of the couple is born before 5 April 1935, you need to claim married couple’s allowance instead of marriage allowance.
While the names sound similar, the two work differently – so make sure you know which one you qualify for.