Marriage tax allowance & married couple’s allowance

It is said, marriage is an expensive affair but then when the Government comes to your rescue with a helping hand to reward you then it is worth engaging in this affair. It is most pleasing to know that the Government of the UK allows allowance or tax benefits for the expenses that married couples or civil partners make during the time they live together.

What is a marriage tax allowance or marriage allowance?

The Marriage Tax Allowance is a less well-known fact, one of the easiest ways to transfer a percentage of Personal Allowance (the tax-free amount earned every year) from one person to another providing they are either married or in a civil partnership.

You might be entitled to claim Marriage Allowance, if both you and your spouse/partner were born on or after April 6, 1935.

How does marriage tax allowance work?

Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner - if they earn more than you. This way it can help you cut-down the tax by up to £252 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).

To get the maximum benefits as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must have an income of £12,570 or less. You can calculate how much tax you’ll pay as a couple.

Marriage Allowance is basically a tax benefit applicable to couples who are either married or in a civil partnership. Here the low earner can transfer £1,260 of their personal allowance to their husband, wife or civil partner. The higher earning partner should be a basic rate taxpayer then receive a tax credit that is equal to the amount of personal allowance that has been conveyed to them. This amount is subtracted from the amount of tax they will generally have to pay.

To avail the maximum amount of benefits as a couple, you (being the lesser earner) should have an income of £12,570 or less.

In case you haven’t claimed Marriage Allowance and your spouse or civil partner dies, you are required to contact HMRC to make a backdated claim (Tax year since 5 April 2019)

Marriage Tax Allowance

Who can apply for marriage tax allowance?

You can get Marriage Allowance if all the following apply:

  • You’re married or in a civil partnership
  • The lesser earning partner’s pay before tax should be less than the personal allowance (in 2023-24 is £12,570)
  • Higher earning partner’s income should come between £12,571 and £50,270.

It won’t affect your application for Marriage Allowance if you or your partner:

How to apply for marriage tax allowance

You can apply for Marriage Allowance online.

If your application is successful, changes to your Personal Allowances will be backdated to the start of the tax year (6 April).

Document requirement to apply for marriage allowance

You must provide your National Insurance number along with your partner’s one.

In case you’ve come to the UK and you don’t have a plan to study or work, in that case you won’t get a National Insurance number. Call the helpline number of Income Tax for Marriage Allowance.

To prove your identity you can do any of the following:

  • Last 4 digit of the account where your tax credits, pension or child benefits are paid into
  • You can provide last 4 digits of an account that pays you interest
  • Particulars from your P60
  • Details of any of your current 3 payslips
  • Your passport num0ber along with the expiry date

What if your partner dies?

In case either of the partners dies after transferring some of his/her Personal Allowance to them

  • Their estate will be treated as having the increased Personal Allowance.
  • The Personal Allowance will go back to the normal amount.


Your income is £8,000 and you transferred £1,260 of your allowance to your partner. This made your allowance £11,310 and their allowance £13,830.

After their death, their estate’s Personal Allowance stays at £13,830 and yours goes back to £12,570.

If your partner transferred some of their Personal Allowance to you before they died

  • Your Personal Allowance will remain at the higher level until the end of the tax year (5 April).
  • Their estate will be considered as having the smaller amount.


Suppose that your partner transferred the amount of £1,260 to your Personal Allowance, making their allowance £11,310 and yours £13,830.

In case the partner dies, your Personal Allowance stays at £13,830 until 5 April, and then goes back to the normal amount. Their estate is treated as having a Personal Allowance of £11,310.

What is a married couple’s allowance?

If you or your partner were born before 6 April 1935, you might benefit more as a couple by applying for Married Couple’s Allowance instead.

The Married Couple Allowance was introduced as a reform by the then PM of the UK, David Camroon Government in April 2015 to incentivize marriages, hoping for cash inflow for millions of families in the UK. However, HMRC has revealed, only one-fourth of the 4.2 million eligible married couples have effectively claimed the tax benefits whereas over 3 million married Brit couples are somehow failing to claim their married couple’s allowance that could well be worth hundreds of pounds sterling for each couple. This amount can add quite some hundreds to the couple’s kitty yearly if they apply regularly.

However, if the amount is back dated then the amount can add up to a larger sum that can provide a collective savings to the couples across the UK. This is the amount that you have to pay if you happen to be a happy married couple in the UK.

According to the policy a married couple or a civil partnership couple are allowed to transfer £1,260 of their personal tax allowance from one account to another’s account. This policy can be beneficial for eligible couples where one of the couples has a higher income than the other and can save up to £252 extra every year by signing up on the Internet to claim tax reliefs . However, this looks unfair to many lawmakers of the UK and hence many feel that there is a requirement for improvement in this policy. But, how does one claim the allowance and get benefited in the current circumstance?

Understanding married couple allowance

If you want to benefit as a couple from marriage tax allowance then you have to earn less than your partner and must not have more than £12,570 as your income. Married Couple’s Allowance (MCA) can lower your tax deduction by between £401 and £1037.50 a year.

You will be entitled to Married Couple’s Allowance if your meet all the below mentioned points

  • You are married or in a civil partnership
  • You are living with your spouse or civil partner
  • One of the partners was born before 6 April 1935

The marriages that were solemnised before December 5, 2005, the husband’s income is considered to finalise the Married Couple’s Allowance. However, the income of the highest earner is considered for marriages and civil partnerships after this date.

You will be entitled for married couple’s allowance

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your Married Couple Allowance can lower your tax deduction bills every year.

Married Couple’s Allowance can deduct your tax bill by between £401 and £1037.50 per year for the 2023-24 financial years. It is advisable that you take help of Married Couple’s Allowance calculator to find out what you are entitled to.

Just in case you decide to marry your civil partner or register civil partnership, the allowance that you will receive will be pro-rata based for the remaining financial year.

If either of the partners/spouses dies or the couples decide to separate or divorce then the allowance is maintained only till the financial year ends. There is also a provision of transferring your Married Couple’s Allowance to your spouse or civil partner.

You can continue to claim Married Couple’s Allowance if you and your spouse/partner have parted through some circumstance instead of your choice to split formally.

Am I eligible to claim marriage tax allowance?

If you meet below mentioned criteria, you will be entitled to claim Married Couple’s Allowance

  • You are married or in a civil partnership
  • You are living with your spouse or civil partner
  • Either you or your partner/spouse were born before 6 April 1935

You can continue to claim your Married Couple’s Allowance if due to below mentioned criteria; you are not in a position to live with your spouse/civil partner

  • If due to health issues or old age, your spouse/partner is in residential care
  • You or your partner is working away from home
  • Posted in an armed forces
  • Either any one of you in prison
  • You are away from home due to training or education

Don’t forget to take help of Married Couple’s Allowance calculator, whenever you find yourself in doubt or where you may need it to know your claims.

How do I claim marriage tax allowance?

If you fill in a self-assessment tax return each year

You can also make your claims by completing the Married Couple’s Allowance section of the tax return of the current year.

If you do not fill in self-assessment tax return every financial year

You can contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with your details such as:

  • Valid document for marriage or civil partnership ceremony
  • Valid document for spouse/civil partner - including date of birth certificate of both the partners.

More information

If you are unable to use your full amount you received by claiming your Married Couple’s Allowance then transfer it after the financial year ends.

If either of the spouse/civil partner is paying tax, one can surely transfer any Married Couple’s Allowance that is left unused because

  • You are not paying tax
  • Your tax bill is not very high

If you have to share or transfer your MCA (Married Couple’s Allowance) then do it before the financial year ends or the next financial year starts. Either of the spouse or civil partner can

  • Transfer or share the minimum amount of your Married Couple’s Allowance
  • Share or transfer the entire amount of the minimum Married Couple’s Allowance from one account to the other

You will have to fill in the form 18 before the next financial year starts. Alternatively, you can contact HMRC for a copy of the post.

Tax allowances and giving to charity

Also, contact HMRC if you pay tax and donate money using Gift aid to the UK charity using Gift Aid. If you were born before April 6, 1938, your tax allowance will increase

Lower and upper income limits for married couples allowances

The upper and lower income limits that you receive are depicted in the table below. You receive the entire Married Couple’s Allowance if your earning comes below the lower limit. You will receive a partial Married Couple’s Allowance if the earning falls between the upper and lower limit. And, you will receive just minimum Allowance if your earning is above the upper limit.

Married Couple’s Allowance || 2023/24 tax year || 2022/23 tax year || 2021/22 tax year || 2020/21 tax year ||
Maximum amount £10,375 £9,415 £9,125 £9,075
Minimum amount £4,010 £3,640 £3,530 £3,510
Blind Person’s Allowance £2,870 £2,600 £2,520 £2,500

You can transfer your unused amount of Married Couple’s Allowance if your tax amount is very low and you are unable to use the entire claim. Refer your tax office or HMRC to understand the policy on transferring your MCA. You can apply online via HMRC website to make a claim for your tax allowance.

Marriage tax allowance & married couple’s allowance FAQs

Can I claim a backdated marriage allowance?

You can backdate your claim to include any tax year since 5 April 2019 that you were eligible for Marriage Allowance.

When does marriage allowance stop?

Your Personal Allowance will transfer automatically to your partner every year until one of you cancels Marriage Allowance or your circumstances change, for example because of divorce or death.

Can I get marriage allowance & married couple allowance at the same time?

No. You can’t get Marriage Allowance and Married Couple’s Allowance at the same time.

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About the author
Blog Author

Sumit Agarwal
Sumit Agarwal (ACMA ACA India), the Managing partner of dns accountants is a highly respected accountant with expertise in helping owner-managed businesses.

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About the author
Blog Author

Sumit Agarwal
Sumit Agarwal (ACMA ACA India), the Managing partner of dns accountants is a highly respected accountant with expertise in helping owner-managed businesses.


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