Further Tory u-turn on marriage tax

The Conservatives have announced a u-turn on marriage tax. They now appear to discriminate against couples without children, including many civil partnerships.

The Conservative party’s increasingly discredited plans to reward marriage in the tax system now appear to discriminate against couples without children, including many civil partnerships.

The Daily Mail this morning followed up Paul Waugh‘s exclusive yesterday:

“But former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the plan would only cost £600million a year if initially limited to married couples with children under three, who are most likely to take time off to care for children.

“He said yesterday: ‘It’s absolutely affordable and it’s right. David Cameron has said so to me in private.”

The new position is a direct contradiction remarks made by the Tory leader in an interview with the Daily Mail in December:

“Mr Cameron told the Daily Mail that ‘celebrating’ and ‘encouraging’ marriage was the norm in most European countries and a Tory government would follow suit by changing the tax system.

“He dismissed speculation that the Conservatives might limit their long-standing commitment to support marriage to couples with children, or those on low incomes.

“All those who tie the knot or enter a civil partnership would qualify, he insisted.”

Restricting the marriage tax break to couples would cost considerably more than the £600 million estimated by Iain Duncan Smith. Since IDS touted the policy in 2007, tax allowances have risen. Treasury estimates of the cost of the policy put the figure at £4.9 billion, over 50 per cent higher than Duncan Smith’s own estimate of £3.2 billion. A similar uprating would place the true cost of the new policy at over £900 million.

Jonathan Finney, Head of External Affairs at Stonewall, the gay rights pressure group told Left Foot Forward:

“We’d expect Mr Cameron to honour his publicly-stated pledge to treat civil partners on an equal footing to married couples for the purpose of any future tax breaks, however they might be introduced.”

Meanwhile, a grassroots campaign on facebook has called for civil disobedience if the Tories bring in a policy. The ‘Marriage tax breaks – no thanks Dave‘ group says:

“David Cameron wants to give me and Mrs McG a tax break just because we got hitched. But he won’t give a tax break to our friends who live together, or our mates who got civil partnered…

“Join this group to tell David Cameron to stop being creepy – and if you’re married too, to be alerted when the time is right to hand over your ill-gotten tax break pounds!!”

UPDATE:

An earlier version of this story quoted only the Daily Mail who had not give due credit to Paul Waugh for his exclusive yesterday. Shame on them.

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