Married women and widows ― reduced rate authority

By Tolley in partnership with Jim Yuill at The Yuill Consultancy

The following Employment Tax guidance note by Tolley in partnership with Jim Yuill at The Yuill Consultancy provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Married women and widows ― reduced rate authority
  • Background
  • Certificates of election
  • Termination of election
  • Employer responsibilities
  • Return of certificates
  • Two-year rule
  • Self-employed
  • Employer liabilities
  • Benefit entitlements
  • Rate of contribution payable


Until 11 May 1977 a married woman or a widow could elect not to pay full rate National Insurance contributions (NIC) and, instead pay a small contribution which originally stood at only 4d. a week (pre-decimal currency) which covered her for certain benefits if she suffered an accident at work. Among the older generation this is still referred to as the ‘fourpenny stamp’. The reduced rate has increased steadily over the years and is now 5.85% of those earnings which fall between the NIC threshold and the upper earnings limit (UEL). It was fairly common for women getting married to make an election not to pay full rate NIC on the basis that they were only going to work for a relatively short period before staying at home to raise a family.

From 11 May 1977 the NIC position of married women and widows changed. Since that time they are treated no differently from any other worker. There are however transitional rules which are still in place which allow those women who were already married on 10 April 1977, and certain widows, to retain the benefit of any election they had made, and so continue to pay reduced rate contributions until an event causes the election to be terminated. The number of women now entitled to pay the reduced rate of contribution is quite low and they will disappear altogether in the next few years.

Certificates of election

The only certificates of election which are now valid are forms CA4139 or CF383, unless either Box A or B has a date which has now passed, or CF380A which is only valid if the woman has worked for the same employer since 5 April 1980 and has been continuously entitled to pay reduced rate contributions since that date.

Any other certificate is invalid and should be returned

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