A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Recognising marriage in the tax system

I'm not married. But I've lived with my partner Linda for longer than almost all our married friends have been together and watched lots of people our age marry and then split up while we've stayed together. Both of us have given up correcting people who describe us as husband and wife because the distinction no longer seems relevant.

Much as I like weddings and can understand the appeal of marriage I doubt I shall have one as Linda's feminist principles make her a bit queasy about the institution, and after so long together, with a mortgage and a child, the idea that we need a certificate from the town hall (we're both atheists so there wouldn't be a church involved), a ceremony and a big party to give credibility to our relationship seems ridiculous.

We provide a very happy and stable home for our four-year-old son as parents, and I gather that it's this stability that the people who write "family policy" want to promote.

So why is it that the Tories think Linda and I should pay more tax than a couple who met very recently, married in haste, have no kids, and will divorce as fast as they met?

Can someone explain why they deserve a tax break and we don't? I could buy young Jed even more Star Wars toys, Thomas wooden railway engines and Playmobil sets than he already has if Mr Cameron thought it was me that was worthy of a tax break.

If civil partnerships were opened up to non-same-sex couples we would go and sign-up to ensure we got existing benefits regarding transfering tax allowances and automatic inheritence rights. It's a shame that when Labour introduced civil partnerships it didn't allow the whole population the opportunity to formalise their relationships legally without having to be married. I think as an established couple with a family we've earned the right to be recognised as a unit for tax and benefit purposes and shouldn't have to marry to claim it or Mr Cameron's "might never happen anyway" tax break.


Anonymous Nine Bob Nellie said...

"It's a shame that when Labour introduced civil partnerships it didn't allow the whole population the opportunity to formalise their relationships legally without having to be married."

It wasn't a shame, it was bloody stupid of Labour to ignore this important factor. Peter Tatchell (Green) was calling for this from the outset.

2:23 am, January 05, 2010

Anonymous Anon E Mouse said...

Luke - What's worse is two sisters living together for example don't have the same rights as a civil partnership...

8:47 am, January 05, 2010

Blogger OscottLocal said...

Spot on Luke, like you i have been in a stable relationship for many years, 8 in fact and see no reason to marry. The Conservative policy on this is totally out of step with public opinion.

So now the Tory tax proposals are done to just a tax break for the wealthy. The dividing lines for the next election are becoming clearer.

I was also struck by Cameron chosing a small Cotswold town to launch his campaign for change...i doubt very much the good folk of North Oxfordshire want much change at all (unless you count leaving the EU. I felt the contrast between the audience in the room and the target audience was significant.

9:43 am, January 05, 2010

Blogger Frank Owen said...

You're absolutely right, Luke - the Tory policy is ludicrous. For example, a woman fleeing an abusive husband would - on top of the undoubted suffering she would have already been through - suffer an effective tax penalty upon divorce.
How is this fair?
In fact, this is a cold electoral bribe to the kinds of middle class families who used to vote Tory, but who moved to Labour in big numbers in the past few elections: it's a "reward" for their "virtuous" behaviour, and never mind that it's exceedingly regressive and pays no heed to the needs of children (no matter what the configuration of their parents' relationship).

9:44 am, January 05, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and what about people widowed? It's bad enough (and expensive enough) when your husband/wife/civil partner dies without suffering a tax penalty and the moral condemnation of the Conservatives for not being married anymore (despite how much you'd still like to be).

I've not seen any mention of the implications for people widowed in media coverage of this policy, despite the fact that all marriages not ending in divorce or separation end like this.

4:56 pm, January 05, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Can someone explain why they deserve a tax break and we don't?'

Because every piece of research has clearly shown that children do best when their parents are married.

Can you explain why people on £60,000 deserve handouts or why so much taxpayers money is thrown at minoroties?

7:43 pm, January 05, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cos your mum and dad stayed together for god knows how many years, cos they thought too much like Thatch for your present comfort, so that the irksome ginger minger they produced could be put into an assisted places school, courtesy of the Conservative party, to get a half decent education so he could make a complete arsehole of himself, apart from that talentless bully who is an even bigger arsehole, of course.

You're going to lose. But you know that.

11:58 pm, January 05, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely agree Luke - lucid and clinical destruction of the policy from Chris Giles in yesterday's FT - also picked up by left foot forward and others: http://blogs.ft.com/money-supply/2010/01/05/the-idiotic-debate-over-marriage-tax-breaks/

10:41 am, January 06, 2010

Blogger Merseymike said...

The best solution would be to have civil marriage or partnerships for everyone, and religionist marriage separate from the state

6:49 pm, January 07, 2010


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