Ask the Expert: How can I apply for tax relief if only one of us is working?

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green - Credit: Archant

This week, our reader wants to know how she and her partner can recieve tax benefits if only one of them is working. Carl Lamb of Almary Green responds.

Reader question:

My husband is working and getting an income of £31,000 a year but I'm a stay at home mum at the moment – I'm not planning to return to work for about seven years when the children have all started school.

We understand that he could pay less tax because I'm not working.

Can you explain how we do that, please?

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There is a tax arrangement that will be of benefit to you if you are not using your Personal Allowance for income tax purposes. The Marriage Allowance permits you to transfer some of your unused Personal Allowance to your husband, which means that he will pay less income tax.

This facility is available to married couples or civil partners where one partner is earning less than their Personal Allowance and the other is a basic rate taxpayer.

The amount of unused Personal Allowance that can be transferred is up to £1,250 which should save your husband up to £250 in income tax over the year.

The good news is that the Marriage Allowance can be backdated to cover any tax years since 5 April 2015 so if you were eligible in earlier tax years, you can apply retrospectively for those years too.

You can apply for the Marriage Allowance online at and your husband's tax liabilities will be adjusted either via his tax code or through his self-assessment tax return, if he does one.

You must be the one to apply: as the lower earner, you're the one giving away some of your Personal Allowance.

The Marriage Allowance will then be applied every year until you tell HMRC to stop or your circumstances change: you must notify HMRC if anything changes such as if you start receiving an income above the personal allowance, if you get divorced or if your husband dies.