Forget marriage tax breaks, what about family tax breaks?

man giving an engagement ring...

The Tories really appealed to their conservative, without a capital C, roots when they proposed a tax break on something as silly as signing a piece of paper - but there must be a whole swathe of Middle Englanders who are pretty miffed about the married couples allowance.

In the Autumn Statement, chancellor George Osborne set out his plans for the tax break for married couples. It will allow up to £1,000 to be transferred between spouses and civil partners meaning a couple could save up to £200 a year on the tax they pay (essentially a higher earning spouse will be allowed to transfer £1,000 of their income to a spouse who earns less than their personal allowance or nothing at all).So far, so prejudiced against those who are quite happily co-habiting without feeling the need to 'make it legal' or 'prove their commitment'.

For whatever daft reason there were plenty of Conservative voters rubbing their hands at receiving a tax break and having a dog at those living in sin but not everyone is going to receive that tax break. Unfortunately it won't apply when one of the couples is a higher rate taxpayer.

A total of four million households will benefit from the tax break and Osborne has said the £1,000 figure will be updated in line with inflation.

There are no details of exactly how onerous it will be to transfer income and make use of the tax break but there is a much greater question hanging over it; surely it's a but old fashioned to cherry-pick citizens for tax breaks based on their relationship status?

We don't live in the 1950s anymore where people's only ambition is to get married and have children. Just because a couple aren't married doesn't make their family unit any less legitimate or their children - who it could be argued will also benefit from their parents having more money through a tax break - any less worthy.

Osborne has promised more tax breaks for marriage but I think he's got his priorities wrong. Let's have some tax breaks it families - regardless of their structure.

Let's make childcare fairer and employment policies for working parents more balanced. Let's stop making people choose between children and a career, others are faced with the financial reality that they may not be able to afford children at all. Dealing with those family life issues is more important than giving a couple a few hundred quid just for signing their names on a dotted line.
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