“The days when the overwhelming majority of families were a husband and wife and their children is a thing of the past. Figures from the ONS show that marriage rates remain at historical lows – in 1941 there were 471,000 marriages in the year compared to 243,000 in 2016 – a drop of nearly 50%.
“However, while society has shifted dramatically, tax rules and benefits have not gone with it, indicating that unmarried couples and their children don’t deserve the same kind of support as those that are married.
“An opportunity to deal with some of this unfair disconnect was offered by a Supreme Court’s landmark judgement last year, which extended civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. While there was a review due in 2020 and it was possible that the government have been mulling scrapping these partnerships altogether, but the judgement meant they needed to think again.
“The consultation today confirms the government are planning to extend the rights of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples and this offers three million cohabiting couples the ability to gain the taxes and financial rights that were previously solely for those who opted for marriage.
1. Berevament payments - For those whose partners die today the combination of the bereavement support payment and widowed parent’s allowance is worth up to £11,608.20 for the first 18 months. This is a substantial sum of money for people who are struggling to cope with a life changing event and trying to get back on their feet. It is only right that is available to all
2. Widows/Widowers in occupational pension schemes
3. Income tax - the Marriage Allowance allows for the transfer of up to £1,190 of your Personal Allowance to your partner if they earn more than you.
4. Inheritance tax (IHT) - estates are passed on tax-free to the surviving partner in a couple.
5. State pension - enhanced income for the surviving partner under the old state pension system.
“In general policymakers need to ensure their taxes and policies are fit for the modern day as even relatively new taxes are steeped in history. For instance, the residence nil rate band is only transferable to a spouse or civil partner and the same is true of the transferable nil rate band. The system clearly needs a rethink and a different way of determining when the taxes and benefits apply.”