Saturday, 24 November 2012

George Osborne is planning for married couples' tax breaks in next year's Budget

The Sunday Telegraph carries the story that Conservative Ministers are drawing up plans to include married couples' tax breaks in George Osborne's next Budget in Spring 2013. "Senior Tory sources", who say "We will do this – the likeliest option is in the Budget", hint that the tax break will be worth £150 a year.

The Sunday Telegraph say at least three Cabinet members support the plan to bring it in next year, and those drawing it up see it as a possible way to head off the growing rebellion over same-sex marriage. The three Cabinet members are thought to be Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Owen Paterson, all seen as men of the socially conservative right.

George Osborne, who, it must be noted, is a driving force behind the Government's new gay marriage push, is said finally to have been persuaded of the benefit of a transferable tax allowance for married couples, after not pursuing the policy for some time, despite it being in the Conservative manifesto, and referred to in the Coalition Agreement. The specific measure would mean allowing "married stay-at-home parents to transfer part of their tax-free allowance to a working spouse, saving some four million married couples around £150 a year".

Action next year on the tax allowance would make it harder for an incoming Labour government to scrap the tax in 2015, should they win the next election. The Lib Dems, who are given the right to abstain on the measure in the Coalition Agreement, are not fans of recognising marriage in the tax system, sticking to the old dogma that the state shouldn't support one family type over another.

The Sunday Telegraph quotes Nick De Bois, secretary of the 1922 Committee, as saying:

"Introducing a married couples’ transferable allowance is a progressive tax that will that will help make work pay for households getting back to work and support families throughout the country. This would be a welcome return to recognising hard-working families through the tax system."

This follows on from a Telegraph interview with Ken Clarke last month, during which he said there were no plans to introduce any tax allowance ("I’m married, I’m not counting on it. I don’t remember anyone promising that kind of thing."), before his office had to clarify that "He completely accepts it's going to happen".

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