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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
A fair tax proposal for marriage?

The Conservatives say they intend to re-introduce a recognition of marriage into the tax and benefit system by giving a tax cut worth £1,000 to many married couples.

They say that Labour penalised married couples by abolishing the married couple's tax allowance.

Labour insist that they want to provide extra support for parents and have introduced the children's tax credit as a partial replacement for the abolished married couple's tax allowance.

The Liberal Democrats say they would not seek to reintroduce the married couples tax allowance but say they plan to reduce the burden of taxation on the low paid.

Is it right to give tax incentives for marriage? Does this discriminate against other couples?

This Talking Point is now closed. Read your comments posted below.

I don't believe the MCA had any influence on me getting and staying married for the last 23 years. It was introduced to help couples where two incomes were reduced to one, and was a good idea in that context as it works where a partner becomes ill for example and not just in the case of having children. Society changes though so I think some common sense should be applied. For example the scheme should recognise other types of formal partnership and allow transfer of any all allowances between partners.
David Price, Reading, UK

I have mixed views on William Hague's comments. As a lesbian I find his views on married life being a bit ofensive,let alone with section 28 still on the scene. We are not pretend families. We are real families. We are one in ten voters - and William Hague needs to wake up to this fact.
Emma, Oxfordshire

I am a married man, and this is through choice - not a tax break

Dominic, London, UK
I think that this discriminates against other couples. I am a married man, and this is through choice - not a tax break. That would just be a way to force people into marriages. What about people who don't believe in marriage and gay couples who are prevented from getting married? Surely these relationships are just as loving and solid as many, many marriages. The Tories are imposing what they feel to be right and not what most people think. They have already shown us they think any deviation from the Tory truth is an evil with their views on Section 28. This is just cementing this.
Dominic, London, UK

Since gays do not have the choice of marriage, it is entirely spurious to link them to this argument. My additional tax burdens as a gay man without children but who is a long term relationship (which I'm happy to pay, for other people's children's education for example) already subsidise many of you. Please don't make it worse.
Paul McM, UK

Marriage is stability, and with so many unmarried mothers our next generation are growing up without ever knowing what being married is about. The government do not want to encourage marriage, they only support unmarried mothers, gays and lesbians. What a sad country we are becoming when all our family values go out of the window.
Diane, Cambridgeshire, UK

How can marriage provide stability if people can get divorced just as easily as they get married? If people have to be bribed into marriage, then they must have lost faith in it.
Matthew Reeve, Cambridge, England

This is one of the few areas where Labour have got it right

Paul Evans, London, England
This is one of the few areas where Labour have got it right. The tax benefit has been moved from marriage, to having children. There is no earthly reason why a childless couple should receive any tax advantage over two single people. Children on the other hand represent an investment in the future which should be recognised. They are after all tomorrow's taxpayers!
Paul Evans, London, England

Income-splitting should be available to any two people with a reasonable link (e.g. marriage, co-habitation, or the cliche of elderly spinster sisters). Interesting to note though that for tax we are individuals, but for benefits we get to be couples (even without marriage). So much for a pensioner, and only a little more if you're a couple. It would be double if they weren't married.
Neotopian, UK

As a married man myself, I would rather see a change to the stupid tax regime whereby couples with both people working pay substantially less tax than those who earn the same through one person working and the other staying at home to look after the children. Removing that barrier would be a far better tax proposal.
Paul R, UK

Forcing or enticing people into marriage was what caused many of these social problems in the first place

Simon Jones, London, UK
Forcing or enticing people into marriage was what caused many of these social problems in the first place. 50% of failed marriages today reflects 50% of unhappy marriages in the past. Now we have a choice about our lifestyles, and many people, including about 40% of heterosexual men, simply have no interest in this appalling institution and are voting with their feet as it were. Better a happy single member of society than a miserable and resentful married one.
Simon Jones, London, UK

This is not at all about forcing or even enticing people into marriage. The Conservatives, a fundamentally Christian party in an originally Christian nation, are recognizing that marriage is an accepted, stable ideal in an increasingly fragmented society.
I. Smith, Cambridge, UK

By putting so much emphasis on the institution of marriage the Conservatives will be following the policy of Mussolini who introduced similar tax incentives for married couples.
Edwina Ramsay, Tromsų, Norway (ex UK)

Married couples stay together because they want to, not because the government bribes them to do so. To think that a couple would stay together because of an extra thousand pounds a year is ludicrous.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK




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