Married Couple's Allowance - includes civil partnerships

The Married Couple's Allowance is an amount that is taken off your tax bill - so it only applies if you pay tax. If you don't pay tax, or if your tax bill isn't high enough to use up all of your Married Couple's Allowance, you can transfer any unused allowance to your spouse or civil partner if they pay tax.

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Who can claim Married Couple's Allowance?

If you were married before 5 December 2005

If you are married and living together and at least one spouse was born before 6 April 1935, the husband can claim Married Couple's Allowance. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reduces your tax bill by 10% of the Married Couple's Allowance to which you're entitled. The actual amount depends on the husband's income.

If you married on or after 5 December 2005 or are in a civil partnership

If you are married or in a civil partnership and living together and at least one spouse or partner was born before 6 April 1935, the person with the higher income can claim Married Couple's Allowance.

HMRC reduce the claimant's tax bill by 10% of the Married Couple's Allowance to which he or she is entitled. The actual amount depends on the income of the spouse or civil partner with the higher income.

If one of you dies, or if you divorce or separate, you'll still get Married Couple's Allowance for the whole of that tax year.

If you are unable to live together

In certain circumstances you may be unable to live with your spouse or civil partner. This may be due to:

  • illness or old age, where a spouse or partner is in residential care
  • working away from home
  • a forces posting
  • a custodial sentence
  • training or education

Where you and your spouse or partner, are separated through circumstance rather than through a decision to formally separate, you will still be able to claim the Married Couple's Allowance. Your entitlement to the allowance will not be affected.

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Period from which Married Couple's Allowance is effective

In the year that you marry or form a civil partnership, HMRC reduces your entitlement to Married Couple's Allowance by one twelfth for each complete tax month before the date of your marriage or civil partnership. For example if you married or formed a civil partnership on 24 March, you would only receive one twelfth, or one month's worth, of the allowance for that tax year. If one of you dies, or the marriage or civil partnership dissolves or you separate, you'll get the Married Couple's Allowance you are due for that tax year.

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How much Married Couple's Allowance might you get?

The maximum amount of Married Couple's Allowance is £8,165 and the minimum amount is £3,140 for the 2014 to 15 tax year. You receive 10% of the allowance amount - which means your tax saving (based on a full year's eligibility) is at least £314 and up to £816.50.

The actual amount depends on the claimant's income - as explained below.

Check Income Tax allowances and income limits for earlier tax years

Effect of claimant's income on Married Couple's Allowance

If your income is over £27,000 (before any allowances in 2014 to 15 tax year) HMRC will reduce the Married Couple's Allowance in the same way that your higher Personal Allowance can be reduced.

The amount of the reduction is worked out as follows:

  • HMRC deducts half of your income - £1 for every £2 - that's over the limit from your higher Personal Allowance, until the basic level of Personal Allowance is reached
  • HMRC takes anything that's left off the Married Couple's Allowance, until they reach the minimum amount - you'll always get the minimum Married Couple's Allowance (10% of £3,140)
  • if your income doesn't reduce the higher Personal Allowance to the basic level, then HMRC don't reduce the Married Couple's Allowance

Worked example

You were born in 1933, are entitled to Married Couple's Allowance and have income before allowances of £32,400. HMRC subtracts the income limit (£27,000) from your income before allowances (£32,400) - this shows that you're £5,400 over the limit. HMRC take half of this (£2,700) off your allowances like this:

  • first HMRC reduces your higher Personal Allowance of £10,660 by £660 to the minimum basic Personal Allowance of £10,000 - this leaves £2040 (£2,700 less £660)
  • next HMRC subtracts £2040 from the Married Couple's Allowance entitlement (£8,165) bringing it down to £6,125
  • your Married Couple's Allowance is £612.50 (10% of £6,1250)

This is the amount by which HMRC will reduce your tax bill.

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How to claim Married Couple's Allowance

To claim Married Couple's Allowance telephone or write to HMRC giving details of your marriage/civil partnership ceremony and spouse/civil partner (including date of birth). If you fill in a Self Assessment tax return HMRC will ask you to include details of your Married Couple's Allowance claim.

Do you need to complete a tax return?

Contact HMRC

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Transferring your Married Couple's Allowance to your spouse or civil partner after the end of the tax year

If you don't pay tax, or if your tax bill isn't high enough to use up all of your Married Couple's Allowance, you can use form 575 Notice of transfer of surplus Income Tax allowances after the end of the tax year to transfer any unused allowance to your spouse or civil partner if they pay tax. You can't get a refund of any excess not used.

You can go to form 575 below. If you don't have access to a printer, you can ask HMRC to post one to you.

If you're making a claim for repayment of tax on a form R40 Tax Repayment you can also request form 575 by ticking the appropriate box.

Go to form 575 Notice of transfer of surplus Income Tax allowances

Go to form R40 and help notes

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Electing to share or transfer your Married Couple's Allowance before the start of the tax year

You can decide to share the minimum Married Couple's Allowance between you or, if you both agree, you can choose to transfer the whole of the minimum Married Couple's Allowance to your spouse or civil partner (£3,140 for 2014 to 15). In this case you'll need to complete form 18 Transferring the Married Couple's Allowance before the start of the tax year.

Form 18 Transferring the Married Couple's Allowance

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Tax allowances and giving to charity

If you pay tax and give money to a UK charity using Gift Aid, it's important to let HMRC know as this has the effect of reducing your income when they calculate your higher allowances. Find out more by reading the HMRC guide on Gift Aid.

Tax relief when giving to charity through Gift Aid

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More useful links

Income Tax rates and allowances

Do you have to pay tax in retirement?

Personal Allowance - learn more

Blind Person's Allowance

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