The married couple's allowance (MCA) is available to elderly married couples or those in a civil partnership where at least one member of the couple were born before 6 April 1935. The allowance provides for tax relief by deducting 10% of the allowance from the amount of tax due on taxable income. The MCA can reduce a tax bill to zero but cannot result in a refund of tax.
For the current tax year, the maximum amount of allowance is £8,445. This means that qualifying claimants can receive a maximum deduction of £844.50 from their income tax bill. The allowance will increase to £8,695 in 2018-19.
The MCA should not be confused with the Marriage Allowance (MA) which came into force on 6 April 2015 and allows lower earning couples (of any age) to share part of their personal tax-free allowance. The MA allows the lower earning partner to transfer up to £1,150 (2017-18) of their personal tax-free allowance to a spouse or civil partner.
There is also an allowance, known as the maintenance payments relief (MPR) which reduces a taxpayers’ income tax bill for maintenance payments made to an ex-spouse or civil partner. Again, this relief is only available where at least one of the ex-spouses or partners were born before 6 April 1935. There are certain conditions that must be met in order to claim this relief. For example, that the ex-partner can’t have re-married or formed a new civil partnership. The MPR works in the same way as the MCA with a maximum deduction of 10% of £3,260 i.e. £326 in the current tax year.