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Marriage tax breaks will be "centrepiece" of Tory campaign

David Cameron has long insisted that any government he leads will introduce tax breaks for marriage.

And it would seem that we are poised to learn what he is proposing, with agreement in media reports this morning that the policy will form the "centrepiece" of the party's election campaign. However, accounts in the Sunday papers differ as to how the tax break will be delivered.

The News of the World reports that the party will adopt a limited version of the marriage recognition proposal put forward by Iain Duncan Smith and the Centre for Social Justice:

"Shadow Chancellor Mr Osborne wants to let husbands or wives who don’t work, transfer their £6,475 personal tax allowance to their working spouses. That would save basic rate taxpayers as much as £1,295 a year - 20 per cent of the personal tax allowance. However, the breaks would have to be limited because the shocking finances Mr Osborne would inherit from Labour means he cannot afford the £5billion-plus needed to help every married couple. So Mr Osborne is looking at giving the breaks to couples who earn less than £20,000-a-year or those with children under three years old."

But the Sunday Times specifically contradicts that account:

"The Sunday Times has learnt that Cameron has rejected a proposal from Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, to give married couples a single transferable tax allowance. This would have effectively been a subsidy for stay-at-home mothers. The Conservative leader has instead opted for a system that would give equal rewards to working and non-workng mothers." 

The paper does agree, however, that the tax break would have to be limited in the first instance, due to the economic situation. It suggests that newlyweds or married couples with young children would be the priority targets.

Either way, it won't be long before confirmation is forthcoming.

“We have promised to provide details of how we will recognise marriage in the tax system before the election campaign begins in earnest and we will honour that commitment,” is what a senior Conservative source told the Sunday Times.

Jonathan Isaby


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