The housewife's lot is not always a happy one when it comes to tax.
Transferring assets can save money
This tax burden arises indirectly, not because the Revenue imposes unduly harsh rates but because too few married couples take full advantage of the relief available to reduce their collective tax liability.
If a spouse at home has neither earned nor unearned income and there are no capital gains then their tax liability will be nothing - but they will have
squandered tax free allowances in excess of £12,000.
If the working partner is paying tax at the top rate of 40% that represents an overpayment of tax for the family of around £5,000.
One of the best ways of tax planning is to make the most of both partners' personal tax-free allowances (worth £5,035 from April 2006).
A physical transfer of assets must take place so any income generating assets, such as building society accounts or buy-to-let properties, may be switched from the working partner's to the non-working partner's name.
If the housewife earns interest from a bank or building society he or she could apply for this to be paid gross.
By the same token if the working partner has a share portfolio which incurs a capital gain above the threshold of £8,800 (tax year 2006 to 2007), then some of the equity could be transferred to the spouse.
This is because the transfer of assets between husband and wife are themselves free of any capital gains or inheritance tax liability.
Money for housework
There is one further mechanism, which has commonly been used to reduce a married couple's tax liability.
Many couples have minimised the tax liabilities through family businesses, but the Revenue is cracking down on abuse of this system.
It is insisting that the pay received by wives must equate to the work which is carried out.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.