Why the Government is right to dump the married couples tax break
The Government has put a tax break for married couples on the backburner. It should scrap the plan altogether!
The Government has confirmed that there will be no tax break for married couples in the Budget.
The tax cut had been included in the last Conservative manifesto and even made it into the Coalition agreement.
And it seemed an easy win for the Government, with Tory backbenchers and grassroot supporters in a bit of a tizzy at the prospect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which will be voted on this week.
But the newspapers were full of “senior Government sources” admitting that there would be no married couples tax break in this Budget, though they maintained it would still happen this parliament.
How it would work
The idea is that one member of a married couple (or civil partnership) who either stays at home or earns a very low income would be able to move part of their tax-free personal allowance over to their partner, reducing their tax bill.
Some reports suggested couples would be able to move around £750 of the allowance in this way.
Why it’s a nonsense
One Tory MP, Nick Du Bois, was on the radio this weekend, banging on about how the Government needs to support the most vulnerable society and this tax break is a way of doing that.
But it’s absolute tosh.
The idea that the Government is offering a financial incentive for people to get married is ridiculous. And I say that as a married man who could conceivably benefit from such a move.
It’s not for the Government to promote one form of relationship over others at all. Why on earth should I be better off for getting married, compared to my brother who has been with his girlfriend for years? Why should wearing the ring on my finger be more ‘tax efficient’ than simply living together?
Couples are essentially being offered a pitiful bribe to go down the aisle, rather than – God forbid – living in sin of their own volition.
Supporters of the married couples tax break will no doubt talk about relationship breakdown and the effect it has on society. They’ll also talk about how the Government has an interest in tackling these issues.
I’m not sure I agree, but it’s a perfectly valid argument to make. But it raises two questions. Firstly, is the institution of marriage really the way to tackle those issues? And secondly, is a tax break that will likely give married couples £150 or so more a year the way to do it?
I highly doubt it. I’ve got nothing wrong with the plan to move part of your tax allowance over to your partner – in fact, I’m actually a fan of it. I just think it’s daft that in order to do so, you need to get married first.
But what about you? What do you think? Should the Government crack on with a married couples tax break? Or is it none of the Government’s business how you choose to form relationships? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.