MPs back marriage tax break in Commons vote

A tax break for married couples has been backed by MPs in a House of Commons vote.

The transferable tax allowance, which is part of the Finance (No.2) Bill, is worth up to £200 a year for married couples where both are basic rate tax payers, and one spouse earns less than the personal tax allowance.

MPs voted 279 to 214 in favour of the tax break, which was promised in the Conservative Party’s 2010 manifesto but was only announced in this year’s budget.

Review

Labour’s attempt to force the Government to review the allowance failed in a further Commons vote.

Former children’s minister, Tory MP Tim Loughton said during the debate, “the heart of what we should be achieving is the creation of greater stability for children, and it so happens that marriages do that best of all”.

And fellow Conservative MP Fiona Bruce commented that the measure “sends out a clear marker from the Government that marriage works”.

Encouragement

“I absolutely agree that it will not be an incentive, but I hope it will be an encouragement. I hope it is a start that will be built upon”, she added.

But Labour MP Steve McCabe said the tax break is “unfair”.

“Unfortunately, this policy is a phoney, misguided and poorly targeted measure. It simply is not one of the good things that we could do”, he argued.

Letter

Last month, a joint letter to The Telegraph from MPs including Labour’s Jim Dobbin, a Church of England bishop, and family campaigners urged the Chancellor to extend the marriage tax break to all married couples.

Written ahead of the budget, the letter said that the “benefit of marriage to society does not depend on one’s tax code”, and called on the Government to extend the allowance, as it would only apply to married couples who are basic rate taxpayers or do not pay income tax.

The tax break was announced in last month’s budget and is expected to come into force from April next year.

The Finance (No.2) Bill is to be considered by a Public Bill Committee on 29 April.

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