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Published on 11 May 2015

Couples in the tax and related welfare systems – a call for greater clarity


The LITRG has called for greater clarity around how couples are dealt with in the tax and tax credits systems.

Deciding when and whether two individuals become a couple or stop being a couple can be difficult – and indeed the two individuals may not always agree. And even if they can agree the authorities may not agree with them, leading in the worst cases to protracted compliance investigations.

Our tax and benefit systems in the UK use various tests to determine ‘couple status’ – but the test can vary depending on which tax or benefit is being examined. This report examines the issues and makes recommendations including a call for more and better guidance from the departments concerned.

The report also examines aspects of the tax and welfare systems where a definition of ‘couple’ that differs from the norm can lead to unfairness – such as the restriction of bereavement benefits to families where the parents happened to be married or civil partners, when the children of unmarried couples may be just as much in need of help from the State following the loss of one parent.

The full report can be found on the link below

cat_report.pdf (756.91 KB)
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