What you need to know about the new law on taxes and benefits for couples who are in an informal marriage

Currently, those who are in a civil (official) marriage or in a same-sex civil partnership can benefit from a number of tax and benefits, in contrast to couples who are in an informal marriage. Now, legislation is being negotiated, as a result of which couples in an informal marriage will receive the same benefits as married partners.

According to estimates, the new rules will affect more than 3.3 million couples who have not registered their relationship. If the legislation comes into force, then these couples will benefit, which in the total amount can save billions of pounds.

Helen Morrissey, of Royal London, said: "Every year more and more people prefer to live together as a couple and do not legitimize their relationship. Unfortunately, the system of taxes and benefits does not regard it as a marriage. It is not right, that they pay the same taxes and contributions to the national insurance system, like married couples, but get less from it."

What new rules will apply to couples who are in an informal marriage?

1. A spousal allowance

Since April 2015, most couples and couples who are in an informal marriage are eligible for marriage tax benefits. This allows a payer, who is not taxed and is in relations, to transfer up to £1,150 of his personal allowance to his spouse, which allows him to cut taxes to £230 a year.

2. Income tax

Each person has a personal allowance that is not subject to income tax: personal savings and dividend allowance. By law, unmarried couples can only use their own benefits. However, if a person is married, he can share assets with his spouse in order to benefit from it twice. If one of the spouses pays the tax at a lower rate (or is not a taxpayer), any money and assets that come from the income can be spent on their behalf in order to use personal benefits, personal savings benefits and a low tax rate.

3. Allowance for the loss of a partner for persons of employment age

According to the current rules, when one person from a couple who is in an informal marriage dies, the remaining partner does not have the right to receive national insurance benefits on the occasion of the loss of a loved one. According to the data, in 2016 such pairs lost about £82 million. If they were allowed to register an informal marriage, they would not have fallen under this rule.

Money support because of the death of a loved one is currently paid at two rates - a higher one-time (for those who have children) in the amount of £3500, followed by monthly payments of £350 for a period of up to 18 months or a lower rate in the amount is £2500 with monthly payments of £100 per month.

4. Inheritance tax (IHT)

Each person has his own zero rate (the amount that can be given to someone without paying the inheritance tax). At present it amounts to £325 thousand and includes gifts, money and property. Nevertheless, for married couples who leave everything for the alive spouse, the inheritance tax will not be paid. For unmarried couples, when one of the partners dies, leaving everything to another, all but these benefits can be taxed at a rate of 40%.

In addition, when a married couple leaves assets for one, its zero rates are also transferred after the death of a partner. So the alive spouse can leave £650 thousand in cash (provided that they will be given to his children or grandchildren) and property worth £350 thousand for free. The same applies to unmarried couples.

5. State pension

Most pensioners who reached the retirement age before April 6th, 2016 fell under the old state pension system. This means that in the event of the death of a spouse, his partner might require the equivalent of a full basic state pension based on taking into account their contributions to the national insurance system. These rights do not apply to couples who are in an informal marriage.

Under this scheme, an elderly married woman could receive an additional £2500 to a pension a year, unlike a partner who is in an informal marriage. If the law changes, it will serve as an incentive for elderly couples who are in an informal marriage to register a partnership.

6. The inheritor of ISA

In the event of the death of a partner, any money or investments held by the ISA will enter into common ownership and will be divided according to what is written in the will. They can also be taxed on inheritance. However, if a person is in an official marriage or in an informal marriage, he/she receives an additional ISA benefit equal to what his/her spouse had before his/her death. The benefit is known as the Additional Permitted Subscription (APS). This means that after approval of the will, a person can redirect savings to APS and save them from tax. This applies only to couples who are officially married.

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