HMRC counting error means fewer are using marriage tax break than thought

A HMRC counting error means roughly half as many people as previously thought are benefitting from a marriage tax break.

The marriage allowance allows a married individual to transfer £1,250 of their tax-free income to their spouse or civil partner if the partner pays a basic tax rate while the individual earns less than the personal allowance (£12,500).

The government last year claimed that approximately three million people were taking advantage of its ‘marriage allowance’.

However, The Telegraph reports revised government figures show the actual number of people who signed up for the tax break in the 2017/18 year was actually just over 1.5 million.

Commenting on the revised figures, HMRC said some individuals had been counted twice, and that its “counting methodology” included backdated claims for previous years, as well as claims made during the 2017/18 year.

Former Pensions Minister Sir Steve Webb, now of insurer Royal London, said: “It is shocking that HMRC have got these figures so badly wrong. HMRC urgently needs to do more to alert families who could benefit so that everyone who is entitled to help receives it.”