Marriage Allowance: how to claim up to £1,242

The Marriage Allowance is worth up to £252 a year - here's what you need to know to claim it and make the most of it before the the tax year ends.

A pair of scissors with wooden blocks that spell out tax
Marriage Tax Allowance
(Image credit: Getty images)

The Marriage Tax Allowance means if you’re married or in a civil partnership, you could be claiming on a tax break worth £252 a year.

If you’re claiming Marriage Tax Allowance for the first time, you could be due a whopping £1,242 windfall as you can claim as far back as the 2018/19 tax year. But after 5 April, you may no longer be able to claim for 2018/19, meaning you could miss out on £238 by not acting now. The current tax year ends on 5 April. 

Around two million households where couples are missing out on free cash according to estimates from HM Revenue and Customs. 

It says more than four million couples are eligible to claim, but only 2.1 million actually claim it which means millions of pounds worth of cash going unclaimed.

Here’s how to find out if you’d be eligible and how to claim.

Marriage allowance

What is the Marriage Allowance?

The Marriage Allowance is a tax break that enables couples, who are married or in a civil partnership, to give the other a slice of their tax-free personal allowance, to save on tax.

The amount you can give is a fixed £1,260 a year, and to make this work, one partner must be a non-taxpayer or earn less than the annual tax-free personal allowance of £12,570. Essentially, this means you're giving up £1,260 of your £12,570 tax-free allowance and 20% of that is £252 - so that's what you're getting back in the current tax year.

Your partner must be a basic rate taxpayer, paying the 20% rate of income tax. This means earnings and income must be between £12,571 - £50,270 a year. Limits are slightly different if you live in Scotland.

Who can claim the Marriage Allowance?

You can claim the Marriage Allowance if you are married or in a civil partnership, and were both born on, or after 6 April 1935. However, if you are a couple simply living together, you cannot claim it.

If you or your partner were born before 6 April 1935, you can’t claim the Marriage Allowance and may be better off claiming the Married Couple’s Allowance instead.

Couples could benefit from Marriage Allowance if the following criteria apply:

  • they are married or in a civil partnership
  • they do not pay income tax, or their income is below the Personal Allowance of £12,570
  • their partner pays income tax at the basic rate – which typically means their income is between £12,571 and £50,270

How to claim the Marriage Allowance

It’s the non-taxpayer or lower-earning partner who must apply for the Marriage Allowance. You can do this online through the Government website where you can also find out how to apply for it via the self-assessment tax system.

You’ll need details including National Insurance numbers for both you, and your partner, along with proof of ID, like passport details and P60.   

Once you’ve submitted your application, you should get a confirmation email within 24 hours. There’s no need to reapply each year, as the marriage allowance will continue automatically.

However, if your circumstances change and you are no longer eligible to claim, say if you have split up with your husband or wife, or your income has increased, you must tell HM Revenue & Customs.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said: "We want every eligible couple to benefit from marriage allowance tax relief. 

"Couples whose circumstances have changed – perhaps one of them has stopped working or taken a lower-paid job – may not realise they are entitled to claim.

"It’s easy to find out what you may be due - search ‘Marriage Allowance calculator’ on GOV.UK to get started. By applying on GOV.UK, rather than through a third party, you get to keep 100% of the tax relief due."

How much is the Marriage Allowance worth?

It’s worth £252 in the current tax year, but if you haven’t claimed before, you can claim for the current tax year, (2022/23), plus the previous four tax years, which can be worth up to a total of £1,242. But, from Thursday the window slams shut on 2018/19 as we start the new tax year.

There’s a handy marriage allowance calculator on the Government website that helps you work out how much you can save by claiming the Marriage Allowance. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Tax yearMarriage Allowance amount
2022/23£252
2021/22£252
2020/21£250
2019/20£250
2018/19£238

When it comes to how you get the extra money, it’s not cash in hand. The way it works is that the higher earning partner will usually get an adjustment to their tax code, which means they’ll pay less tax each month. 

The ‘new’ code will usually include the letter ‘M’, to show they’re claiming the Marriage Allowance.

If the higher earning partner is self-employed, any tax adjustment will usually be made when they file their annual self-assessment form.

Can you backdate it if you missed out?

If you haven’t claimed the Marriage Allowance before, then providing you are eligible, you can claim for previous years up to a total of £1,242, but you’ll need to be quick.

Claims can currently be backdated as far as the 2018/19 tax year which started on 6 April 2018. However, 5 April 2023 is the last day you can go as far back as 6 April 2018, as the new tax year starts from 6 April 2023.

When it comes to paying out on backdated claims, HMRC will usually pay by bank transfer or send a cheque.

You can still claim retrospectively if your partner has died since 5 April 2018. The best way to do this is by calling the income tax helpline on 0300 200 3300. 

Sue Hayward
contributor

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!