Marriage

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Do I need to tell Revenue if I get married or enter a civil partnership?

Once you get married or register a civil partnership, you should advise the tax office of the date of your marriage or civil partnership registration and quote the Personal Public Service Numbers (PPS No.) for yourself,spouse or civil partner.

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How will we be taxed in the year of marriage or civil partnership was registered?

For tax purposes, both spouses or civil partners continue to be taxed as two single persons in the year of marriage or civil partnership was registered. However, if the tax you pay as two single persons in that year is greater than the tax which would be payable if taxed as a couple in a marriage or civil partnership, a refund of the difference can be claimed. Any refund is due only from the date of marriage or civil partnership was registered and will be calculated after the following 31 December.

A refund of tax for the year of marriage or civil partnership was registered would normally only arise where a couple are taxed at different tax rates and one spouse or civil partner could benefit from the unused standard rate band or from some of the unused tax credits of the other spouse or civil partner. See examples in Leaflet IT2 - Guide to taxation of Married Couples and Civil Partners.

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How will we be taxed in subsequent years?

The following options are available:

  • Joint Assessment
  • Separate Assessment
  • Separate Treatment (Assessed as Single Persons)

You may choose the method of taxation which is best suited to your circumstances.

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What is Joint Assessment?

Joint Assessment is usually the most favourable basis of assessment for a couple in a marriage or civil partnership. It is automatically given by the tax office once you have advised us of your marriage or civil partnership registration, but this doesnt prevent you from electing for either of the other options.

Under Joint Assessment, the tax credits and standard rate band can be allocated between spouses or civil partners to suit their circumstances, for example:

  • If only one spouse or civil partner has taxable income, all tax credits and the standard rate band will be given to him or her.
  • If both spouses or civil partners have taxable income, they can decide which spouse or civil partner is to be the assessable spouse or in the case of civil partnership, which partner is to be the nominated civil partner and request the tax office to allocate the tax credits and standard rate band between them in whatever way they wish. [PAYE tax credit, employment expenses and the basic standard rate band are non transferable].

Where the tax office does not receive a request for the allocation of tax credits and reliefs, it will normally give all the tax credits (other than the other spouse's or civil partner's PAYE tax credit and employment expense) to the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner.

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What do you mean by "Assessable Spouse" or nominated Civil Partner?

The assessable spouse or nominated civil partner is the spouse or civil partner who must complete the return of income for the couple and is chargeable to tax on the joint income of the couple.

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How do we nominate the Assessable Spouse?

The couple themselves elect which of them is to be the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner. A form to enable the nomination to be made is included in Leaflet IT2 - Guide to Taxation of Married Couples and Civil Partners. Alternatively, an election in writing, signed by both spouses or civil partners will be accepted. While the nomination must be made to the tax office on or before 31 March in the tax year, it should ideally be made before the start of the tax year i.e. 1 January, to ensure that the correct tax-credits and standard rate band are allocated to each spouse or civil partner from the start of the tax year.

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What is the position if we do not nominate the Assessable Spouse or Nominated Civil Partner?

In the absence of a nomination, the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner is the spouse or civil partner with the highest income in the latest year for which details of both spouses or civil partners income are known.

A spouse or civil partner will continue to be the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner unless the couple jointly elect that the other spouse or civil partner is to be the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner or until either spouse or civil partner opts for separate assessment or assessment as a single person.

Repayments

Repayments arising from an end of year tax review will, in general, be apportioned and repaid on the basis of the tax paid by each spouse or civil partner.

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If one spouse or civil partner is Self-Employed can Joint Assessment apply?

Yes. The flexibility which Joint Assessment affords can be very convenient where one spouse or civil partner pays tax under PAYE and the other pays tax under the Self Assessment system. You can let your circumstances dictate whether most of the tax should be paid under PAYE or in a lump sum on assessment. This will be determined by the manner in which the tax credits are allocated. If you wish to pay most of your tax under PAYE, the tax credits, other than PAYE tax credit and employment expenses, should be offset against the self assessment income, and vice versa.

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Can Joint Assessment apply if only one spouse or civil partner has taxable income?

Yes. Joint Assessment is the only practical option in this situation. All tax credits, reliefs and standard band are allocated to the spouse or civil partner with taxable income.

Return of Income Form

Only one form need be completed. This must be completed by the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner, showing both spouse's or civil partner's income and claiming full tax credits and reliefs.

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Do I have the same district office as my spouse or civil partner?

Yes in most cases. (See Contact Locator)

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What is Separate Assessment?

Under Separate Assessment your tax affairs are independent of those of your spouse or civil partner. The following allowances are divided equally between you:

  • Married or Civil Partner's Tax Credit
  • Age Tax Credit
  • Blind Tax Credit
  • Incapacitated Child Tax Credit.

The balance of the tax credits are given to each of you in proportion to the cost borne by you. PAYE tax credits and expenses, if any, are allocated to the appropriate spouse or civil partner. Any tax credits etc., other than PAYE tax credit and employment expenses, which are unused by one spouse or civil partner may be claimed by the other spouse or civil partner. The tax credits may not generally be adjusted until after the end of the tax year.

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What happens under Separate Assessment to tax-credits not fully used by one spouse or civil partner?

Any unused tax credits (other than the PAYE tax credit and employment expenses) and standard rate band up to €41,800, can be transferred to the other spouse or civil partner but only at the end of the tax year. The increase in the standard rate tax band of up to €23,800 is not transferable between spouses or civil partners.

If you think that this applies to you, you should contact your district office for a review after the end of the tax year. It is important to note that, overall, the amount of the tax payable under Separate Assessment is the same as that payable under Joint Assessment. See examples in Leaflet IT2 - Guide to taxation of Married Couples and Civil Partners.

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How do I claim Separate Assessment?

Separate Assessment can be claimed either verbally or in writing. The claim can be made by either spouse or civil partner and must be made, in thesix months between the 1 October of the preceding year and 31 March in the year of the claim. It cannot be backdated and it lasts until withdrawn. Whichever spouse ir civil partner makes the claim initially must also be the one to withdraw it.

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What about Return of Income Forms?

Each spouse or civil partner may complete a separate return of their own income. However, your district office will accept one joint return (which can be made by either spouse or civil partner) if it includes the income of both spouses or civil partners.

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What is Separate Treatment? (Assessment as a single Individual)

Under Separate Treatment each spouse or civil partner is treated as a single person for tax purposes.Separate Treatment should not be confused with Separate Assessment.

Both spouses:

  • Are taxed on their own income
  • Get tax credits and the standard rate band due to a single person
  • Pay their own tax
  • Complete their own Return of Income form and claim their own tax credits.

One spouse or civil partner cannot claim relief for payments made by the other and there is no right to transfer tax credits or standard rate band to each other.

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How do I claim Separate Treatment?

Separate Treatment can be claimed either verbally or in writing.. Either spouse or civil partner can make the claim and the election lasts until withdrawn by the spouse or civil partner who claimed it. A claim for Separate Treatment, if required, must be made within the tax year (preferably at the beginning).

This basis of assessment can be unfavourable in some circumstances because you cannot transfer unused tax credits or standard rate band. Home Carer's Tax Credit cannot be claimed in respect of a spouse or civil partner who cares for a dependent person and who may otherwise qualify for the relief. See examples in Leaflet IT2 - Guide to taxation of Married Couples and Civil Partners.

Summary

  • Notify your tax office that you have got married or are registered in a civil partnership.
  • Choose which way you wish to be taxed as a couple in a marriage or civil partnership.
  • After the end of the tax year in which you got married or entered a civil partnership registration, check to see if you are due a refund of tax.

September 2011

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