One of my most successful recent columns explained how married or civil partnered couples can claim Marriage Allowance – worth £250 this year and up to £1,188 for five years. Frequent emails from readers tell me they’ve had hundreds of pounds from HMRC after following my advice. So I was a bit shocked to hear from Yvonne, who said I had got the rules wrong and should correct what I’d written. In fact, Yvonne had been the target of a con. A firm sent her forms to claim the allowance – and then lose it by signing a box saying she unconditionally assigned any income tax repayment to them.
A quick internet search – don’t you do it! – turns up ads from businesses that will help you make a claim for Marriage allowance in exchange for a hefty share of it – anything from 40 per cent to, in Yvonne’s case, all of it. These firms prey on couples who have heard of Marriage Allowance but don’t know how to claim. One search and they’re in the net.
It’s simple and free to claim through gov.uk – only on that website, search “marriage allowance”. You just need your and your partner’s National Insurance numbers and one form of ID. If you can’t go online, call HMRC on 0300 200 3300. After I alerted her to the scam, Yvonne applied in the proper way by phone.
Sadly, around two million couples who could claim have not done so, saving the Government hundreds of millions of pounds. You could be one.
The Marriage Allowance is given to people who are married or civil partnered and fulfil two conditions:
- One of you pays no income tax;
The other pays income tax, but not at the higher rate.
If you tick both boxes, then the partner who doesn’t pay tax should claim Marriage Allowance, which transfers some of their unused allowance to their spouse. You can claim for this tax year, 2020/21, and for each year you fulfilled the conditions, going back to 2016/17. Those five years are worth a total of £1,188 to the tax-payer.
If you or your partner were born before 6 April 1935, you should claim instead the more valuable Married Couple’s Allowance – which is worth up to £907.50 a year. Go to gov.uk and search “married couple’s allowance”.
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on R4