Can Your Marriage Tax Allowance Be Backdated in the UK?

    Can Your Marriage Tax Allowance Be Backdated in the UK?

    Getting married is an exciting time, but it also marks a change in your financial situation that may impact your taxes.

    In the UK, you and your spouse become eligible for the marriage tax allowance once you tie the knot. However, many couples wonder – can this tax break be backdated to the year they wedded?

    In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all the ins and outs of backdating the marriage tax allowance in the UK. We’ll go over the eligibility rules, discuss the backdating application process, and provide tips to maximize your tax savings.

    Let’s get started!

    What is the Marriage Tax Allowance in the UK?

    Before diving into backdating, it’s important to understand exactly what the marriage tax allowance is and how it works.

    The marriage tax allowance allows one spouse or civil partner to transfer up to £1,250 of their personal allowance to their husband/wife/civil partner to reduce their tax bill.

    The personal allowance is the amount of income you can earn each year before paying income tax. For the 2021-22 tax year, the personal allowance is £12,570.

    So in summary:

    • One partner can transfer up to £1,250 of their personal allowance to the other partner.
    • This reduces the taxable income of the receiving partner by up to £1,250.
    • It lowers their tax bill and can save them up to £250 per year.

    The marriage allowance is only applicable to basic rate taxpayers. If both earn more than the personal allowance threshold, they won’t benefit. Only opposite-sex married couples and same-sex civil partners qualify.

    Who Can Apply for Backdating?

    Now that we have a basic overview of the marriage allowance itself, let’s examine the specific eligibility criteria for backdating the relief.

    To qualify for backdating your marriage allowance application, these core conditions must be met:

    1. You must have got married or entered into a civil partnership in the 2015/16 tax year or later. Those wed before 6 April 2015 are not eligible.

    2. You and your partner must have been living together in all tax years you wish to backdate the relief to.

    3. Neither spouse can be a higher or additional rate taxpayer in the backdated tax years. Both must be basic rate taxpayers only.

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    4. You must submit your backdating application within 4 years of the end of the tax year you wish to backdate to. For example, your latest date to apply for the 2016/17 tax year is 5 April 2021.

    So in summary, as long as you satisfy residency, tax rate status and application deadlines, you have a good chance to get marriage allowance relief backdated for past tax years after your wedding date.

    How to Apply for Backdated Marriage Allowance

    Now that we understand who is eligible, let’s review the step-by-step process for applying to backdate your marriage tax allowance in the UK:

    1. Gather Documentation: You’ll need documents like your marriage/civil partnership certificate, P60s or tax calculation summaries for the years you want to backdate to.

    2. Fill Out Form SA1: Download Form SA1 from the HMRC website and fill it out with your personal details and the backdated years requested.

    3. Submit Form SA1: Post your completed SA1 form to the tax office responsible for your tax affairs. Include copies of required documentation.

    4. Review by HMRC: HMRC will assess your eligibility and the claims made. They may need to verify information with employers if P60s are missing.

    5. Receipt of Backdated Reliefs: If approved, HMRC will apply the marriage allowance retrospectively, recalculate your liability, and issue a tax repayment for the years backdated.

    6. Monitor Repayments: Allow 4-6 weeks to process. Check bank accounts for tax repayment amounts issued for each backdated year approved by HMRC.

    So in summary – gather documentation, fill out the backdating form, submit with evidence, wait for HMRC review and receive backdated reliefs owed if approved. Persevere and follow up if needed.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid

    While backdating is possible for many, there are some pitfalls prospective applicants should watch out for:

    Missing Documentation: Incomplete forms or lack of required evidence like marriage certificates or P60s can cause delays or denials.

    Incorrect Address: Ensure your current contact details are provided to HMRC for any correspondence. Mistakes here may cause you to miss important messages.

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    Higher Rate Taxpayer Status: Do not apply if either spouse was paying tax at the higher or additional rate in any backdated year requested.

    Expired Deadlines: The 4-year window from tax year end is strict. Do not assume HMRC will make exceptions for late applications.

    Separate Residency: You must have lived together with your spouse for the full duration of each backdated tax year.

    Double checking eligibility criteria and submitting complete, accurate applications can help avoid common backdating request pitfalls. Take your time and ensure all details are correct to maximize your chances with HMRC.

    Key Changes to Marriage Allowance Rules

    While the core eligibility criteria have largely stayed the same, there have been a few noteworthy changes to marriage allowance rules in recent years that may impact backdating applications:

    Extended Deadline (2019): As of 6 April 2019, the deadline to backdate was extended from 1 year to 4 years from the tax year end, allowing more time to apply retrospectively.

    Survival Rule Lifted (2020): Previously, if one spouse died, the living spouse had to remain unmarried to retain eligibility. This condition was removed, removing restrictions on future relationship status.

    Same-Sex Couples Included (2018): From 2018, same-sex married couples and civil partners could also apply for the allowance, previously only applicable to heterosexual married couples.

    Staying on top of marriage allowance policy changes can prevent you missing out on backdated relief that new rules may allow versus prior law. Check for updates whenever considering retrospective applications.

    Maximizing Backdated Tax Savings

    If approved, a backdated marriage tax allowance application can put welcome money back in your pocket. Here are some tips to maximize the savings:

    Request Multiple Years: You may be eligible to backdate up to 4 previous tax years. Consider including them all in one application.

    Recalculate Self Assessments: If you submit self-assessment tax returns, recalculate older years owed due to the allowance with HMRC.

    Retain Approvals: Keep documentation of HMRC approvals in case an old employer needs proof for payroll adjustments.

    Check Bank Accounts: Monitor for lump sum refunds covering multiple years of tax relief owed and interest applied.

    Use Refund Wisely: With the cost of living rising, the backdated funds can help ease financial pressures significantly when received.

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    By fully utilizing available backdated years, recalculating past liabilities accurately, and carefully tracking refund amounts, maximize the potential tax benefits of receiving a marriage allowance application approval from HMRC.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are answers to some of the most common questions about backdating the marriage tax allowance:

    Can I still apply if we got divorced? As long as the marriage lasted during backdated tax years, divorce later does not impact eligibility.

    What if one spouse has since died? The lifting of the ‘survival rule’ in 2020 means you can still backdate as a widow/widower if criteria was otherwise met when married.

    How far back can I apply? Up to 4 complete tax years before the tax year you submit your SA1 backdating application form to HMRC are eligible to backdate to.

    How long will it take? HMRC aims to process applications within 4-6 weeks. However, larger or more complex requests can take longer depending on needed follow ups.

    Can I partially backdate some years? Yes – you’re free to request for example only the previous two tax years rather than the full four years allowed if you choose.


    In summary, we’ve covered the core eligibility criteria, application process, potential pitfalls, key policy changes, and tips to maximize financial benefits of backdating your marriage tax allowance with HMRC.

    Provided all conditions are satisfied, married and civil partnered couples have a solid opportunity to gain tax relief retrospectively on their wedded years. With planning and thorough applications, it’s an effective way to free up income that can be put to good use.

    If you’ve recently tied the knot or have been married for longer, assessing your eligibility to backdate is worthwhile. Don’t hesitate to contact HMRC directly as needed as well if any part of the process requires clarification.

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