Family taxation - returns from the grave?

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Independent taxation for married women has barely had time to register. So why are there are now mutterings for a return to family taxation. Simon Sweetman reports

In 1991 the Conservative government announced that it would right a great wrong and would end the 19th century taxation treatment of families as a husband and wife unit, introducing full independent taxation for married women. There was little opposition to the move, seen as sensible and logical at the time, and it duly became law. Why then are there now voices suggesting ' however cautiously ' that we might go back to taxing families as a unit?

At the time, there were some minor downsides to the new legislation ' married women who were in paid work and supporting a house husband (there were not many of them at the time, bu...

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03rd Sep 2005 08:39

Family taxation seems fairer
Separate taxation can lead to the anomaly where two families with the same gross income pay different amounts of tax. Both wage-earners on £30k per year: basic-rate tax only. One on £52k a year, spouse on £8K, and a large wodge goes in 40% tax. A consistent tax regime for families, or the ability to transfer excess income to a lower-taxed spouse could help eliminate this.

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31st Aug 2005 12:07

School age?
I agree with most of what you are saying, although could not understand why you would restrict the 'family taxation' to those with school age children.

Surely those with children younger than school age are more likely to have one non-working partner?

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01st Sep 2005 10:02

Under 16's

I think Simon was probably referring to children not exceeding school age as oppose to children not old enough to attend school yet.

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30th Aug 2005 12:36

Choice is sensible and logical
I have been an advocate for being able to choose between individual or family taxation for years now. Never had a sensible reply from the Government when I have raised my thoughts.

It's very simple really. Under individual taxation, a family with a higher-rate single wage-earner and a non-working spouse will lose out by losing the spouse's personal allowance. Whereas, under family taxation, two lower-rate wage-earners might find themselves forced into the higher-rate tax band if forced to be taxed as a family unit. Neither forced option is fair, yet both result in the Treasury trousering more tax than could otherwise be the case.

Given a choice, a taxpayer or family could choose on an annual basis whether they wanted to be taxed individually or as a family unit. Each would be different, with the arithmetic determining the best answer for each circumstance. If the Government wanted to limit the revenue cost, they could easily restrict the ability to choose family taxation perhaps to those family units with school-age children (to reflect the valuable and unpaid contribution that non-working spouses play in bringing up children). At present, such actions are penalised if the single-wage earner pays higher-rate tax by losing the spouse's personal allowance, yet for such things as tax credits, the family's income is taken into account, not just the main-wage-earner's. A case of the Government having its cake and eating it.

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31st Aug 2005 13:50

I agree
I second that, from a selfish point of view. I am a high rate earner supporting a stay-at-home wife looking after my youngsters.

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