Conservative ministers are preparing tax breaks for married couples in the next budget, according to a report in the Telegraph. It is thought that this transferable tax allowance will please Tory MPs but create further tension with Liberal Democrats in the Coalition.
The measure will allow married stay-at-home partners to transfer part of their tax-free allowance to a working spouse.
Senior Tories have said married tax breaks – which could save a couple around £150 per year – will probably be instituted in the 2013 Budget. Several cabinet ministers have backed the acceleration of this long-awaited and controversial move and suggested it will go ahead next year.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
“We will do this – the likeliest option is in the Budget”.
It is thought that speeding up the introduction of tax breaks for married couples will placate right-wingers who oppose the Conservative fast-tracking of gay marriage legislation.
This tax break was in the Tory manifesto at the time of the last election and cited in the Coalition Agreement. However, this document also gave the Liberal Democrats the right to abstain from any Commons vote on it and Liberal Democrat resistance is likely.
Last December Nick Clegg said:
“We should not take a particular version of the family institution, such as the 1950s model of suit-wearing, breadwinning dad and aproned, homemaking mother, and try and preserve it in aspic.”
Mr Clegg added:
“We can all agree that strong relationships between parents are important, but not agree that the state should use the tax system to encourage a particular family form”.
Some Tory ministers, on the other hand, are keen to introduce the tax breaks. Fifteen wrote a letter to The Telegraph earlier this month, calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that tax breaks are included in the next Budget. Cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Owen Paterson openly support the letter.
Photo of George Osbourne with William Hague by The Prime Minister’s Office under a Creative Commons licence