Time to end the marriage tax penalty

Nov 23, 2022 by

by Colin Hart, Coalition for Marriage:

The Government needs to stop penalising marriage and start ensuring it is rewarded in the tax system, a leading think tank has said.

In a new report entitled ‘Reform the Marriage Allowance’, think tank Civitas points to the shameful fact that the UK has one of the lowest marriage rates in Europe. And it continues to decline: in 2019 the annual rate of new marriages was less than a quarter of its level in 1972, and is set to go lower still.

Marriage is particularly crucial for children, the report says. Unmarried parents are three times more likely to break up before their first child’s fifth birthday.

The Government “cannot afford to be neutral about marriage”, the report says, as family breakdown is known to lead later on to numerous social and mental health problems for children. Yet in recent years the Government appears to have become squeamish about marriage, with references to it having “almost disappeared from government policy documents”.

An improved marriage allowance is needed to address the ‘couples penalty’ in the tax and benefit system. In 2010 this penalty was to the tune of £45 per week for an average family, and has scarcely improved since. The current policy, introduced in 2015, allows one spouse to transfer just 10% of their tax-free personal allowance to the other – currently worth a maximum of only £252 a year. This should be 100%, the report says.

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