Split the bill and apply for Marriage Allowance

Balancing family finances can be hard, but Marriage Allowance is an easy way to save up to £250 a year.

mum and dad kissing their daughter - marriage allowance


If you’re married or in a civil partnership and one of you has an income of less than £12,500 a year find out if you are eligible today.

What is Marriage Allowance?

Marriage Allowance lets you transfer 10% of your Personal Allowance (the amount you can earn tax-free each year) to your husband, wife or civil partner – if their income is higher than yours.

If your income is usually over £12,500 but goes down, for example if you retrain, take parental leave or reduce your working hours, you may be eligible.

You can apply for Marriage Allowance online. Applying is easy and only takes a few minutes. It’s important that you claim directly from HMRC on GOV.UK and not through anyone else, so you get the full amount.

HM Revenue & Customs Marriage Allowance

Example 1 

Sam and Jo are civil partners and have two children. After the birth of their first child in 2015 Sam went back to work part-time and has an income of £10,000. Jo is in full-time employment and has an income of £34,000.  

Sam checked that they are eligible and applied online for Marriage Allowance. Sam’s income has been below the personal allowance since 2015 and Jo has always paid Income Tax at the basic rate. Claims can be back dated for 4 years, so Sam made a claim from 2015. HMRC sent Jo a cheque for £900 for 4 years and changed Jo’s tax code for 2019/20 so Jo now pays £250 less tax.

Who can get Marriage Allowance?

You can benefit from Marriage Allowance if all of the following apply:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership
  • one partner does not pay Income Tax (this is usually below their Personal Allowance of £12,500)
  • the other partner pays Income Tax at the basic rate, which usually means their income is between £12,501 and £50,000.

In other words, one person must not be a tax payer and the other person must have an income of less than £50,000.

If you’re in Scotland, one partner must pay the Scottish starter, basic or intermediate rate, which usually means their income is between £12,501 and £43,430.

You cannot claim Marriage Allowance if you’re living together but you’re not married or in a civil partnership.

Example 2 

Jie was completing her PhD when she had her first child and so did not receive any maternity leave payments. Her husband Dan found information on Marriage Allowance on GOV.UK and Jie applied online.  

Marriage Allowance helped them financially by letting them transfer some of Jie’s tax-free allowance to Dan. They saved over £200 in the year they were eligible. When Jie returned to work she contacted HMRC and stopped the claim.

How do I apply for Marriage Allowance?

The lower earner must apply, otherwise the application will be unsuccessful.

All you need to apply is

  • your National Insurance number
  • one of the following forms of ID
    • the last 4 digits of the account that your child benefit, tax credits or pension is paid into
    • the last 4 digits of an account that pays you interest
    • details from your P60
    • details from any of your 3 most recent payslips
    • your passport number and expiry date

Apply for Marriage Allowance online 

How does Marriage Allowance work?

If you were eligible in previous tax years, HMRC will send a cheque for the total amount owed. For current and future tax years, Marriage Allowance is paid by changing the higher earner’s tax code.

Can I backdate my claim?

You can backdate claims up to a maximum of four years. This means you have until Sunday 5 April to backdate the application to 2015 if you are eligible.

The maximum amounts you can claim for each year are:

2015/16 – £212

2016/17 – £220

2017/18 – £230

2018/19 – £238

2019/20 – £250

If you claim now and are eligible to backdate your claim for four years, you’ll get up to £1,150.

Marriage Allowance claims do not need to be submitted every year because they are automatically renewed. However, if your circumstances change you should notify HMRC.

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