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Marriage Tax Allowance and Married Couple’s Allowance 2024

Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Jan 02, 2024
5 minutes read

If you are married, or if you’re in a civil partnership, you may be entitled to marriage tax allowance worth £1,260. Taking advantage of the married couple's allowance tax break is much easier to do than you might think.

The allowance enables you to transfer £1,260 of your personal allowance to your spouse or your civil partner if they are earning more than you are. Your personal allowance is the amount that you’re enabled to earn without paying tax on it each year. If you are eligible for the married allowance scheme, the highest-earning partner in the couple should see a reduction in their tax bill. You may even be able to backdate your married couples allowance claim so past years are taken into account if you are eligible for married allowance.

Couple on sofa with laptop

Which Criteria Do I Need to Meet to Be Eligible for Married Couple Tax Allowance?

You must be married or in a civil partnership if you want to take part in the married couple tax allowance scheme. You won’t be able to claim if you only live together. One of the partners must be a non-taxpayer. This currently means they need to earn less than the current personal allowance of £12,570. The other partner must be a basic rate taxpayer who pays 20% above the threshold. This means you can’t earn more than £50,270 if you’re the higher earner, or £43,662 if you live in Scotland. You won’t be able to take part in the married couple tax allowance scheme at all if you’re a higher or additional rate taxpayer. Both partners must have been born on or after 6th April 1935. If you do earn over £50,270, you may be able to make yourself eligible by boosting your pension contributions.

Do I Need to Re-apply Once My Application Has Been Approved?

No, if you are eligible for HMRC marriage allowance UK and your application is successful, you will receive the married couple tax allowance tax break automatically in future. You can also backdate your married couple tax allowance claim by up to four years. The HMRC marriage allowance tax break is currently worth up to £252 a year.

How Is the Marriage Tax Allowance Calculated?

The person with the unused amount of personal allowance is able to transfer £1,260 of their allowance to their partner. They cannot transfer any more or less than £1,260.

Receiving the Money

The partner receiving the married couple tax allowance tax break will have their personal tax code adjusted for the current year. If the person transferring their personal allowance is currently employed, they will receive a new tax code. It normally only takes two days for a new tax code to be generated, but when you actually see a difference in your pay will depend on your employer’s payroll date.

If you are self-employed, HMRC will reduce your tax bill once you have a new, bigger tax-free allowance. If you want to backdate your married couple tax allowance claim to cover previous years, you will receive a marriage allowance payout. This will come in the form of a cheque payment or a bank transfer. For more marriage tax benefits, read here.

Will It Cost Me Anything to Apply for Married Couple Tax Allowance?

You don’t need to pay anything to apply for married couple tax allowance. However, you may encounter some less than scrupulous firms online trying to charge you to apply for married tax allowance. It’s always best to avoid this as you can apply for free on the HMRC website. We also have more information on how to claim marriage allowance.

How Long Does It Take for HMRC to Process Marriage Tax Allowance Claims?

If you submit your married couple tax allowance claim online, it should take around 2 months for HMRC to process it. It can take up to 29 working days for married tax allowance claims made via the post to be processed. If you’re wondering which partner needs to apply for the marriage tax allowance, this is the lower earner who isn’t currently paying income tax. To apply, you will need two forms of ID and the national insurance numbers of you and your partner.

For more information on how long does it take to get your cheque for marriage tax allowance, read our guide.

Which Years Can I Apply for If I Want to Make a Backdated Claim?

You can only apply for marriage tax allowance for years when one of you didn’t earn enough to pay tax. For instance, if you both earned more than £12,500 in one tax year, you won’t be able to apply for this period. You can currently have a claim backdated by four tax years.

When Do I Need to Cancel the Married Couple Tax Allowance?

You will need to get in touch with HMRC to end the married couple tax allowance if you are getting divorced, one of you is now in a higher-rate tax threshold or one of you passes away.

What Is the Relationship Between Marriage Tax Allowance and Maternity Leave?

If you are on maternity leave and your income has dropped below your personal allowance as a result, you may be able to claim for married couple tax allowance. This will enable you to transfer some of your unused personal allowance to your partner as long as they are paying tax at the basic rate.

What Will My Tax Code Be Whilst I’m Participating in the Marriage Tax Allowance Scheme?

Both partners will see a change in their tax codes once they start to claim married couple tax allowance. The person who is handing over a part of their personal allowance to the other will have an N code, whilst their partner will now have an M code.


If you suspect that you may be eligible for married couple tax allowance, it’s certainly worth applying for it. If you’re able to have your married couple tax allowance claim backdated by several years, this could be very lucrative indeed. Many couples have been able to claim back sizeable sums after putting off claiming married couple tax allowance or simply being unaware of it and how it works. If one of you is a basic rate taxpayer and the other earns less than the threshold for paying tax, there is rarely anything to be gained by declining married couple tax allowance. Just remember that you need to transfer all of your unused personal allowance to your spouse if you do decide to proceed with a marriage tax allowance claim.

When you are ready to claim the married couple tax allowance, make sure you have you and your partner’s NI numbers to hand. You’ll also need to prove your identity, which you can do with your P60, a payslip from the past three months and/or your passport details. It’s highly recommended that you apply for your married couple tax allowance online rather than offline so you can speed up the process. Paper-based applications can take much longer. Just make sure that the person making the married couple tax allowance claim is the lower earner. The higher earner’s tax could be reduced by £252 for the year if your claim is successful. If you need to cancel your married couple tax allowance, do this as quickly as you can to avoid penalties. You can either do this online or by giving HMRC a call on 0300 200 3300.

Alternatively, fill in your details and we will let you know if you're eligible.

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