Married couple’s allowance

By Tolley
  • (Updated for Budget 2020)

The following Personal Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Married couple’s allowance
  • Married couple’s allowance
  • Reduction of MCA
  • Transfer of MCA
  • Reporting
  • Tax planning
  • Overseas aspects

The married couple’s allowance (MCA) is only available if one of the two spouses or civil partners was born before 6 April 1935. This means that one member of the couple must be at least 86 years old on 5 April 2021 to qualify for an allowance in the 2020/21 tax year.

There is a distinction in the legislation between couples that married before 5 December 2005 and those that married or entered a civil partnership from this date.

Unlike the personal allowance, the MCA is a ‘tax reducer’, not a deduction from net income. Also, MCA can be transferred between spouses / civil partners, although the amount of the allowance is always calculated by reference to the primary claimant.

The MCA is reduced where:
•the marriage / civil partnership took place in the tax year, or
•the primary claimant’s ‘adjusted net income’ exceeds £30,200 for 2020/21 (£29,600 for 2019/20)

The commentary in this guidance note applies equally to those in civil partnership as it does to those who are married. For simplicity, the text refers to ‘spouse’, ‘married couples’ and ‘marriage’, but this should be read as ‘spouse or civil partner’, etc.

This guidance note does not discuss the ‘transferable tax allowance’ (also known as the ‘marriage allowance’) which came into effect from 6 April 2015. This is because the transfer relates to the personal allowance and if a claim for the MCA is made for the tax year then the transferable tax allowance is not available. For more information, see the Transferable tax allowance guidance note. 

ITA 2007, s 55B(2)(d)

Married couple’s allowance

For married couples where one person was born before 6 April 1935, the maximum MCA is £9,075 for 2020/21 (£8,915 for 2019/20).
To qualify for the allowance, all the following conditions must be met:
•one member of the couple must have been born before 6 April 1935
•the couple is married and living together for at least part of the tax year
•the primary claimant meets the residence requirements in ITA 2007, s 56,

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