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Married People: Tax Allowances

Question for HM Treasury

UIN HL6283, tabled on 23 March 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much was spent on Marriage Allowance in (1) 2015–16, and (2) 2016–17.

Answered on

5 April 2017

The Marriage Allowance was introduced in 2015-16 to recognise the importance of marriage in the tax system. Around 1.8m people have claimed the allowance to date.

Our current best estimate assessment of the initial cost of this allowance is £140m in 2015-16, but this does not include the impact of any expected future claims, which can be backdated to this year. We forecast the total cost of this allowance to rise to £385m in 2015-16 once these claims are taken into account.

An estimate of the initial cost of this allowance for 2016-17 will not be available until the end of the tax year. We forecast an eventual cost to the exchequer of £425m, once all backdated claims are taken into account.

Marriage Allowance claims can be made up to 4 years after the tax year has finished. The expected future projections of the Marriage Allowance final cost for 2019-20 is not available because this depends on our forecast of backdated applications, and the forecast period does not currently extend out to 2023-24.

HM Treasury does not hold information relating to the income deciles of claimants or successful applicants of the Marriage Allowance. Previous analysis of the total eligible population has shown the majority of the benefits of this policy go to the bottom half of the income distribution. Only basic rate taxpayers and non-taxpayers will benefit.

HM Treasury does not hold information about how many individuals claiming Universal Credit are eligible for the Marriage Allowance.

The number of claimants of Married Couple's Allowance by the income groups requested is set out for the latest outturn year available (2014-15):


Percentile Groups (ranged on total income before tax)

Bottom 20%


Top 50%





The cost of the Married Couples Allowance is forecast to be £220m in 2016-17. It is expected that the cost of this relief will decline, as it is restricted to couples where at least one of them is born before 6 April 1935.

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