Government promises to prioritise tax breaks for marriages

1st July 2013 | News

The Government is keen to ensure that married couples are not put at a tax disadvantage, following pressure from Tory MPs regarding promises made during their manifesto.

Back in 2010, the Conservatives prioritised allowing non-working wives and husbands to transfer up to £750 of their annual tax-free allowance to their spouse.

This would potentially allow taxpaying couples to save around £150 a year, provided they earn less than the higher rate of tax, presently £41,451.

By recognising marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system, Conservatives would aim to "send an important signal that we value couples and the commitment that people make when they get married".

However, the policy is yet to come to fruition, with the government claiming that efforts to cut the deficit and help low income earners have taken priority; they also face opposition from their Lib Dem coalition partners.

In his letter to Conservative MPs, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, has tried to reassure members that support for married couples is still on the party's radar:

"The prime minister has always been clear that it is important to recognise marriage in the tax system, and this firm commitment remains," he wrote.

"As you will be aware, the Conservative manifesto at the last General Election set out our policy to introduce a transferable tax allowance of £750 between spouses and civil partners. This was restricted to basic rate taxpayers."

He added: "I know that many of you will have heard the chancellor set out his commitment to deliver on this during the course of this Parliament. An announcement on details of how we will legislate for this in this Parliament will be made by the chancellor in due course."

While these changes are likely to be made before the next general election, MPs are less than convinced and would like to see action being taken sooner rather than later:

"There is only a certain amount of promises about 'in due course' that hard-working families can take," said Tim Loughton, former education minister.

"There was a clear Conservative manifesto commitment to deliver a clear and popular Conservative policy that rights an injustice by recognising hard-working families in the tax system."