Mum of one Lisa Sudlow-Lane, 30, and her husband Nathan, 32, claimed £250 in tax back after finding out they were eligible for spousal benefit.
Marriage benefit is available to couples who are married or in a civil partnership where one person earns less than the personal benefit threshold of £12,750.
You can transfer € 1,260 of your personal allowance to your partner, which reduces his tax assessment.
Lisa, who lives in Rotherham, gave birth to her daughter Rosalie in 2020 while she worked as a sales consultant and Nathan worked for Sky.
While Lisa was on maternity leave, her income fell below £12,570 – the personal allowance threshold.
This meant that Lisa, who was earning £20,000, was taking home about £1,000 less a month than when she was working.
After 11 months, Lisa resigned because she could not meet her request for flexible working.
Lisa was then out of work for six months before she decided to become a part-time French teacher at a secondary school.
During this time, the couple was largely dependent on Nathan’s income and had to draw around £5,000 from their savings to pay their monthly bills.
It was not until she returned to her new job that Nathan learned from a work colleague that the couple was entitled to a marriage allowance.
Lisa said: “I had previously heard about marriage allowance through government social media advertisements, but I had even considered that we might qualify for it.
“I looked on the government website and used the eligibility calculator to check if it was worth applying and I couldn’t believe it when it said we were eligible.
“I didn’t think we could claim it while I was on maternity leave.
“The application was very simple and it only took two to two months for the money to be directly in our bank account.”
Lisa and Nathan were refunded £250 in tax from HMRC as they filed for the 2020/21 tax year.
The amount you can get retroactively depends on the tax year for which you file a return.
The couple said they used the money to cover the cost of a weekly shop and other necessities.
“I’ve learned that it’s always worth checking your eligibility for help when there’s a big pay gap,” Lisa said.
“I was so happy to find out that I could apply for the time I was on maternity leave, but I don’t think many people know about this.
“I found the whole application very easy and I definitely think more people should do it.”
HMRC said it wants eligible couples to benefit from tax relief for marriage benefits, if they qualify.
Angela MacDonald, Deputy Managing Director and Second Permanent Secretary of HMRC, said: “Couples whose circumstances have changed – perhaps one of them has stopped working or taken a lower paying job – may not realize they are entitled to claim.”
Who is eligible for marriage benefit?
You can claim marriage benefit if all of the following apply:
- you are married or have a registered partnership
- you pay no income tax or your income is less than your personal allowance (usually £12,570)
- your partner pays income tax at the basic rate, which usually means their income is between £12,571 and £50,270 before they receive spousal benefits
You are not entitled to marriage benefit if you live together, but are not married or do not have a registered partnership.
You can backdate your claim to include any tax year since April 5, 2018 in which you were eligible for spousal benefits.
Your partner’s tax bill will be reduced, depending on the personal deduction rate for the years you go back.
To work out how much you’ll get, you can use the government’s marriage allowance calculator.
How can I apply for marriage benefit?
You can apply for marriage benefit online for free via the government website.
If you both have no income other than your wages, then the one who earns the least must file the claim.
If one of the members of the pair receives other income, such as dividends or savings, you can call the Income Tax Helpline to find out who should claim it.
HMRC will then give the allowance you have transferred to your partner by changing their tax code or when they have submitted their self-assessment return.
Keep in mind that it can take up to two months to change a tax code.
If your new Personal Allowance is lower than your income after you file a return, you may have to pay income tax. However, you can still benefit as a couple.
Can I apply for my marriage benefit with retroactive effect?
You can reclaim hundreds of dollars in tax, but you need to act quickly.
For the 2021/22 tax year, you can claim a tax break worth up to £252.
In addition to this year’s allowance, you can also get it for the previous four tax years – currently 2018/19, 2019/20 2020/21 and 2021/22.
The tax break was worth £238, £250, £250 and £252 respectively in those years, meaning you can get up to £1,242 in total.
But you can only reverse it by four years.
You could miss out on £238 if you don’t sign up before April 5 this year.
Once you have claimed, you do not need to reapply, but you must notify HMRC if you are no longer eligible.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the fact that you can date back means you can get up to £1,242.
She said: “When money is tight, especially during maternity leave, this can make a huge difference.
“There could be over two million couples who qualify but don’t file a claim, so it’s worth checking to see if some of this money is in your name.”
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