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.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments