Allowance on taxes paid because of a marriage: what is it and how does it work?

Revised on December 1, 2022

4min read

If one spouse earns less than the standard personal allowance, a married or in a civil partnership couple has the option to apply for tax relief through the marriage tax allowance.

Here is all the information you need to know about the marriage tax credit.

Marriage tax allowance: what is it and how does it work?

What is the marriage tax credit?  

Marriage allowance is a tax benefit for married or civil partnership couples that allows the lower earner to transfer £1,260 of their personal allowance to their partner.   

The basic-rate taxpayer who makes more money will receive a tax credit equal to the amount of personal allowance transferred to them, which will be subtracted from the amount of tax they would otherwise owe.   

To be qualified

  • The low-earning partner's income must be below the standard personal allowance, which is £12,570 in 2022–23, before taxes.

  • The higher-earning partner's income must be between the basic-rate income tax threshold, which is between £12,571 and £50,270.  

However, there are various bands and rates for Scottish income tax.  

If you reside in Scotland, you are eligible to receive marriage allowance if your income is between the Scottish starter, basic, and intermediate tax rates.

Basically, the partner with the higher income must make less than £43,662 per year.  

How is marriage allowance calculated?  

The lower earner must submit an application to HMRC asking for their unused personal allowance to be transferred to their spouse in order to receive marriage allowance.  

Those making less than the standard personal allowance (£12,570) can transfer up to £1,260 to their partner's allowance during the tax year 2022–2023.

However, it's important to keep in mind that all of your unused personal allowance must go to your spouse if you do decide to transfer any of it.  

Who can receive a marriage allowance?  

If all of the following apply to you, you will be eligible for marriage allowance:

  • You're either wed or in a civil union.

  • Both of you were born on or after April 6, 1935.

  • One of you pays taxes at the basic rate of 20 percent.

  • The other does not pay taxes.

How to request a marriage tax credit

Before claiming the marriage allowance tax relief, you'll need a few things.  

You must have both your National Insurance (NI) number and your partner's NI number in order to proceed.  

You'll need to provide identification proof, which you can do by utilizing any two of the options listed below:

  • Your P60

  • One of the three most recent pay stubs you have

  • Details of your UK passport

  • Your credit file's contents, including loans, credit card transactions, and mortgages

Online applications are the quickest way to request marriage allowance. Within 24 hours, you'll receive an email confirming your application.  

But keep in mind that if you wish to apply, you must do so on behalf of the applicant with the lowest income.  

How much is the marriage tax credit?  

You can transfer £1,260 from your personal allowance to your spouse or civil partner under the marriage tax allowance. Due to this, your spouse's tax for that year could be cut by up to £252.   

Are marriage benefits taxable?  

Getting married is a tax break. In the event that one partner does not use any (or any of their personal allowance), it provides couples with a way to pay less tax.   

The method of payment for the marriage allowance  

Due to the fact that the marriage allowance is a tax break for partners who pay the standard tax rate, you wouldn't receive it in your bank account.  

Accordingly, the higher-earning partner will pay less in taxes on a portion of their income and receive more money each week or month, depending on when they are paid.   

Only if you've requested backdated marriage allowance from prior years will you receive a check in the mail for your tax relief.   

Can independent contractors receive a marriage allowance?  

Self-employed people can also easily qualify for marriage allowance as long as both partners earn between £12,571 and £50,270 per year and neither partner makes less than £12,570.  

The marriage allowance tax relief will lower the recipient partner's self-assessment bill if they submit a self-assessment.   

When on maternity leave, can you receive the marriage allowance?  

During your maternity leave, if your income is less than £12,570, you can apply to have 10% of your personal allowance transferred to your spouse.  

Can marriage allowance be retroactive?   

You may request a backdated marriage allowance of up to four years.  

If any claimants in this tax year were qualified for the marriage allowance during this time, they may backdate their claim to include any tax year beginning after 5 April 2018.   

You can backdate your marriage allowance claim to include any eligible tax year between now and 5 April 2018 if your partner passed away after that date. Call the income tax helpline if you want more details.  

How can I stop receiving my marriage allowance?  

Contact HMRC as soon as you can if you need to cancel a marriage allowance transfer. You can do this online or by calling 0300 200 3300.  

However, the marriage allowance will be automatically terminated if a marriage ends in divorce or death.  

Alterations to tax laws

The recipient partner's tax code typically changes to "M" after using the marriage allowance tax relief, indicating they are receiving marriage allowance from their spouse.   

The tax code of the partner transferring their personal allowance will also change to "N" if they are employed, indicating that they have chosen to use their marriage allowance.   

How long does it take to process and receive a marriage allowance?  

Any claims for marriage allowance may take up to two months to process because HMRC must examine each claimant's tax code before issuing a refund.  

It's important to get the appropriate financial advice for your situation. Find your ideal financial advisor right away.  

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