How it works
Information subject to change – Please refer to the UK Government website for the most up-to-date position.
Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,250 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner.
This reduces their tax by up to £250 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).
To benefit as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must normally have an income below your Personal Allowance – this is usually £12,500.
You can calculate how much tax you could save as a couple. You should call the Income Tax helpline instead if you receive other income such as dividends, savings or benefits from your job. You can also call if you do not know what your taxable income is.
When you transfer some of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner you might have to pay more tax yourself, but you could still pay less as a couple.
Your income is £11,500 and your Personal Allowance is £12,500, so you do not pay tax.
Your partner’s income is £20,000 and their Personal Allowance is £12,500, so they pay tax on £7,500 (their ‘taxable income’). This means as a couple you are paying Income Tax on £7,500.
When you claim Marriage Allowance you transfer £1,250 of your Personal Allowance to your partner. Your Personal Allowance becomes £11,250 and your partner gets a ‘tax credit’ on £1,250 of their taxable income.
This means you will now pay tax on £250, but your partner will only pay tax on £6,250. As a couple you benefit, as you are only paying Income Tax on £6,500 rather than £7,500, which saves you £200 in tax.
Who can apply
You can benefit from Marriage Allowance if all the following apply:
- you’re married or in a civil partnership
- you do not pay Income Tax or your income is below your Personal Allowance (usually £12,500)
- your partner pays Income Tax at the basic rate, which usually means their income is between £12,501 and £50,000 before they receive Marriage Allowance
You cannot claim Marriage Allowance if you’re living together but you’re not married or in a civil partnership.
If you’re in Scotland, your partner must pay the starter, basic or intermediate rate, which usually means their income is between £12,501 and £43,430.
It will not affect your application for Marriage Allowance if you or your partner:
- are currently receiving a pension
- live abroad – as long as you get a Personal 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.
You cannot get Marriage Allowance and Married Couple’s Allowance at the same time.
Backdating your claim
You can backdate your claim to include any tax year since 5 April 2016 that you were eligible for Marriage Allowance.
Your partner’s tax bill will be reduced depending on the Personal Allowance rate for the years you’re backdating.
If your partner has died since 5 April 2016 you can still claim – phone the Income Tax helpline. If your partner was the lower earner, the person responsible for managing their tax affairs needs to phone.
Stopping Marriage Allowance
Your Personal Allowance will transfer automatically to your partner every year until you cancel Marriage Allowance – for example if your income changes or your relationship ends.
How to apply
It’s free to apply for Marriage Allowance.
If both of you have no income other than your wages, then the person who earns the least should make the claim.
If either of you gets other income, such as dividends or savings, you may need to work out who should claim. You can call the Income Tax helpline if you’re unsure.
Changes to your Personal Allowances will be backdated to the start of the tax year (6 April) if your application is successful.
How your Personal Allowances change
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will give your partner the allowance you have transferred to them either:
- by changing their tax code – this can take up to 2 months
- when they send their Self Assessment tax return
If your new Personal Allowance is lower than your income after you’ve made a claim, you might have to pay some income tax. However, you might still benefit as a couple.
How your tax code will change
You and your partner will get new tax codes that reflect the transferred allowance. Your tax code will end with:
- ‘M’ if you are receiving the allowance
- ‘N’ if you are transferring the allowance
Your tax code will also change if you’re employed or get a pension.
If your circumstances change
You must cancel Marriage Allowance if any of the following apply:
- your relationship ends – because you’ve divorced, ended (‘dissolved’) your civil partnership or legally separated
- your income changes and you’re no longer eligible
- you no longer want to claim
If your income changes and you’re not sure if you should still claim, call HMRC Marriage Allowance enquiries.
How to cancel
Either of you can cancel if your relationship has ended.
If you’re cancelling for another reason, the person who made the claim must cancel.
You can cancel Marriage Allowance online. You’ll be asked to prove your identity using information HMRC holds about you.
Contact Marriage Allowance enquiries to cancel or get help.
Marriage Allowance enquiries
Telephone: 0300 200 3300
Telephone from outside the UK: +44 135 535 9022
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm
Find out about call charges
After you cancel
If you cancel because of a change of income, the allowance will run until the end of the tax year (5 April).
If your relationship has ended, the change may be backdated to the start of the tax year (6 April).
This might mean you or your partner underpays tax for the year.
If your partner dies
If your partner dies after you’ve transferred some of your Personal Allowance to them:
- their estate will be treated as having the increased Personal Allowance
- your Personal Allowance will go back to the normal amount
Your income is £8,000 and you transferred £1,250 of your allowance to your partner. This made your allowance £11,250 and their allowance £13,750.
After their death, their estate’s Personal Allowance stays at £13,750 and yours goes back to £12,500.
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 treated as having the smaller amount
Your partner transferred £1,250 to your Personal Allowance, making their allowance £11,250 and yours £13,750.
After their death, your Personal Allowance stays at £13,750 until 5 April, and then goes back to the normal amount. Their estate is treated as having a Personal Allowance of £11,250.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
Last updated 4th February 2021
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