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Tax for Married Couples in Ireland

Find out how to file your tax return if you are married...

If you're married, you should list your and your spouse's income separately. Income that arises in joint names should be split equally between you. In the year of marriage, a couple are taxed as two single people unless the tax paid as such is greater than the tax payable by a married couple, in which case a refund can be claimed, but only from the date of your marriage. In subsequent years, married couples have a choice of joint assessment, separate assessment or 'assessment as a single person'.

Unless you specify that you would like separate or single person assessment, you're automatically given joint assessment (also known as aggregation), which in any case is the only option when one partner isn't earning and is usually also the best arrangement in other cases.

Joint Assessment: Under joint assessment, you must decide which partner is the 'assessable spouse' (usually the higher earner), who's responsible for making the tax return and paying the tax. You both qualify for tax allowances as if you were single, but you're entitled to transfer allowances between you. If one partner is employed and the other self-employed, for example, there could be a cash flow advantage in transferring all the allowances to the employed partner. As tax isn't payable under self-assessment until ten months after the end of the tax year, you would effectively be delaying payment of the bulk of your combined tax.

If one partner earns less than your combined total tax allowances, you can transfer 'unused allowances' to the other. Similarly, if one partner earns less than the maximum income taxed at the lower rate of 20 percent), you can transfer the 'unused rate band' to the other partner.

Separate Assessment: Under separate assessment you're still entitled to transfer allowances between spouses, but each partner's tax affairs are treated separately, so that you must each submit a tax return and pay your share of tax. Separate assessment may be chosen by couples who prefer to be financially independent, yet don't want to lose out on the tax benefits available to married couples. The deadline for claiming separate assessment for the current tax year is 31st March.

Single Person Assessment: Single person assessment (or separate treatment) is similar to separate assessment in that each partner is treated separately for tax purposes. The difference is that allowances aren't transferable between partners, so you can lose out on unused allowances and rate bands. This method of assessment is really only suited to couples who are both paying tax at the higher rate.

Extract from Survival Books by Joe Laredo
Survival Books Ltd.
Copyright © Survival Books Ltd. All rights reserved.
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