Page 6, 27th February 1998

27th February 1998
Page 6
Page 6, 27th February 1998 — Why reward couples who marry?

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Why reward couples who marry?

BESS TVOS" I ON Davies repeats the claim of CARE the two parent families pay 50 per cent more tax than a single person with no dependents. At best this claim is misleading and at worst plain wrong.

How much tax is paid will depend on the level of earnings and whether both parents are working. If both are working they will each have a personal tax allowance and part of their earnings will be taxed at the lower rate of 20 per cent. In addition they will be able to claim the Married Couples' allowance. Even if only one of them is working the allowances available to the earner will exceed those available to the single person.

It is quite reasonable to ask that the Chancellor ensure that couples who marry are not disadvantaged in comparison with those who cohabit and to do something to compensate for the lower earnings and higher expenditure where one partner gives up work to devote time to child rearing or because of chronic illness. It is not reasonable to ask that because my wife and I elected to marry we should be further rewarded for our virtue.

The tentative proposal to allow couples to elect for joint assessment which takes into account the earned income of the family as a whole, is intended to allow help to be given to the poorest families via a tax credit. This option could usefully be extended to allow slightly better off couples to retain more tax free income during the years when only one of them is working for either of the reasons given earlier.

If the cost of giving help to less well off families has to be met by the loss of the married couples allowance it seems a reasonable price to pay.

The Inland Revenue makes no distinction between first and second marriages.

If Catholics are going to insist that the married couples allowance be retained and increased perhaps they should ask themselves if they are prepared to do likewise.

Les May Rochdale Lanes

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