One of the off announcements included in the Chancellor's recent pre-Budget report is that next year pensioners aged between 73 and 74 will get an increase of £330 in their marriage allowance.
There is a footnote, however, stating that this only applies to those born before April 5, 1935. It was the previous Chancellor who abolished it for those born after.
This means that the 2009/2010 allowance is meaningless because those born before that date will, in that tax year, be eligible for the over 75-marriage allowance; there will be no one eligible for the 73 to 74 amount and currently (2008/2009) it only applies to those aged 74 before next April.
Another footnote states that it is restricted to 10 per cent, including for those over 75. This means that the publicised allowance is worth only half the amount stated. It is the reduced amount which is always shown on the PAYE Coding Notice and this results, paradoxically but happily, in some pensioners being taxed over £6 a week less than the Chancellor intended. Apart from all those eligible having to complete a tax return there is no other way that the tax office can apply the rule.
Year on year the age of those receiving the married man's allowance will be increasing and the over 75 will be replaced by over 76, over 77, etc. Who will be the first to completely abolish the allowance - the Chancellor or the Grim Reaper?
The Chancellor can admit that the correct allowance is not what he claims and he should also consider reinstating it for all married men so that there is a return to the existing anticipation of receiving a tax refund on getting married.