Tax breaks for married couples are “more about the message than the money” Tory leader David Cameron says.
Mr Cameron said: “I don’t think people are going to rush out and get married because there’s a certain amount of money on offer every week. I just think that we as a country should recognise the importance of committed relationships.”
Mr Cameron said that by sending this message about marriage he hoped to create “a ‘we’ society rather than a ‘me’ society”.
The Tory leader has pledged to recognise marriage within the tax system, but details of how he will achieve this remain unclear.
Mr Cameron’s comments came as the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an independent think-tank established by Iain Duncan Smith MP, published the estimated costs for allowing married couples a transferable tax allowance.
The CSJ’s Green Paper recommends that the transferable tax allowance should initially be restricted to those with children aged three or under.
It says: “We believe that as a priority, a transferrable tax allowance should be introduced for married couples with children aged 0-3, the formative years of a child’s life.”
Implementing the transferable tax allowance for all married couples would cost an estimated £3.2 billion, but if the scheme was initially restricted to those with children aged three or under the cost would be reduced to an estimated £600 million.
The transferrable tax allowance could leave families up to £20 per week better off.
The current tax system penalises married couples meaning that many would be financially better off if they were to split up.
Liam Byrne, Labour’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has accused Mr Cameron of watering down his proposed tax reforms.
Mr Byrne said: “David Cameron said all couples would get it, not just those with children, but now he seems to be backing away from his cast-iron guarantee.”
Earlier this week, David Cameron was force to defend his proposed recognition of marriage within the tax system following attacks by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, branded Mr Cameron’s tax reforms as ‘social engineering’.
And Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, called the reforms a “bribe”.
Mr Cameron has committed himself to introducing the tax reforms during the next Parliament if the Conservatives are elected.
However, earlier this week it was revealed that any reforms would not form part of the Conservatives’ initial budget on taking office.