Tories announce £150 tax break for four million married couples

Four million married couples will be given a tax break of up to £150 a year by a Conservative government under plans to be announced today by David Cameron. The move – designed to meet the Tory leader's promise to recognise marriage in the tax system – is targeted at couples paying basic rate income tax, many of whom have young children.

The Conservatives put the cost of the promised tax breaks at £550m and said the cash would be raised by a levy on banks that would raise more than £1bn. The policy falls short of the party's original proposal to end what they viewed as discrimination against married couples in the tax system.

It will disappoint right-wingers who were pressing for a single tax allowance for married couples, subsidising mothers who stay at home. But Tory chiefs will hope the policy, which will also apply to civil partnerships, helps the party to build on a largely successful first week to their election campaign.

Mr Cameron recently played down hopes of a big giveaway to married couples, saying: "It's always been more about message than money."

Under his plans, one member of an eligible couple would be able to transfer £750 of their personal income tax allowance to their partner. As the break would be limited to basic rate taxpayers, it would be worth a maximum of £150 at the 20 per cent rate of tax. It would be tapered away at annual incomes above £42,500 so that no higher taxpayer earning more than £44,000 would benefit.

Party sources said the move was a progressive measure, with two-thirds of the benefits going to families with below average incomes. They estimate four million of the country's 12.3 million married couples would benefit.

Labour, which had claimed that offering a tax break to all married couples would cost £4.9bn, will today hit back at the Tory proposals. Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, and Yvette Cooper, the Work and Pensions Secretary, who are married, will claim that the plans are not properly costed.

Mr Balls has already denounced the "unfair" policy as amounting to "social engineering".

The practicalities of how to recognise marriage in the tax system have created a headache for Conservative strategists. The party's former leader, Iain Duncan Smith, had proposed giving all married couples a single transferable tax allowance, which would effectively subsidise mothers who stay at home.

But the Tory chiefs baulked at the £3bn estimated cost of the policy proposal and the risk that it would be portrayed as penalising working women.

In January, Mr Cameron said the parlous state of the nation's finances meant that he might not be able, as Prime Minister, to afford to offer a tax break to married couples. However, hours later he admitted he had "misdescribed" the position and insisted he would offer financial support to married people in the next parliament.

In February, the Conservative leader took his party's spring conference – and his own shadow Cabinet colleagues – by surprise when he promised to spell out the policy before polling day.

Last night the Tories cited the example of a married couple where one person stayed at home while the other received a salary of £20,000 a year. Under the current system they pay £2,680 in tax. After the non-working partner transferred £750 of his or her unused personal allowance to the other person, the couple would pay only £2,530, saving them £150 a year.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?