The Chancellor should extend the proposed marriage tax break to all married couples, a group of MPs, a Church of England bishop and family campaigners have urged ahead of this week’s budget.
The joint letter to The Telegraph welcomed the transferable tax allowance – worth up to £200 a year – but warned that the Government needs to “go further”.
The tax break would only apply to married couples who are basic rate taxpayers or do not pay income tax – those who earn more than £42,285 a year are excluded from it.
The letter, co-signed by the Bishop of Chester Rt Revd Peter Forster, Labour MP Jim Dobbin and others, said: “There is an urgent need for the Government to build on it and to move to a fully transferable allowance for all married couples as soon as possible.”
“The benefit of marriage to society does not depend on one’s tax code”, it added.
The letter described the marriage tax break as “a very important and very welcome development which we applaud”.
“Marriage is a public good with clear public policy benefits both in terms of adult and child wellbeing”, the letter explained.
Nola Leach, Chief Executive of Christian charity CARE, Dr Samantha Callan of the Centre for Social Justice and Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation also signed the letter.
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce the measure in his budget on Wednesday.
Last week the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said the marriage tax allowance would be scrapped under a Labour Government.
Speaking in an interview with the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, Mr Balls said the tax break is “perverse and unfair”, and instead proposed a new 10p starting rate of income tax.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is also against the tax break, saying it is unfair on those who choose not to marry.
“You don’t need the taxman to tell you whether you should get married or not”, he said last year.
The Conservative Party promised a marriage tax break in their 2010 election manifesto, and MPs said its introduction would be a strong sign of the Government’s commitment to marriage.
A leading pro-marriage organisation said the allowance is “political game playing” but a step in the right direction, after it was announced last year.
Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation said: “A small tax break from government will never be enough. It can only be the beginning. It’s a flag in the ground.””The real disgrace is that we have turned our backs on marriage for far too long. It has cost us dear”, he added.