Marriage allowance and self assessment – an update on systems problems

HMRC finally accepts that there are issues, and is working on them


The Tax Faculty posted a news item on The mechanics of the marriage allowance in July 2016. The allowance enables a married couple or civil partners to transfer 10% of the income tax personal allowance from one to the other.

Members had raised a number of queries and reported problems, particularly where one or both members of the couple are in self assessment. HMRC has now accepted that the system has not worked as it should. Some of the issues have been resolved but there are others for which a solution is not yet in place.


The issues, with the current position on each, are as follows:

1. Cases where the self assessment statement does not match the SA302 tax calculation and the difference is down to marriage allowance transfer.


Update from HMRC: A software fix was made on 11/07/2016 – this corrected around 15,000 cases. However, further cases then came to light which highlighted an error in the original software specification. HMRC corrected these further cases by the end of August.


2. Marriage allowance being added to the tax due in the recipient’s SA302 tax calculation instead of being subtracted (the first page of the SA302 and the SA statement are correct in these cases).


Update from HMRC: A fix for this issue will be in place by the beginning of October.


3. Marriage allowance application was made for 2016/17 but marriage allowance adjustments are included in the taxpayer’s 2015/16 tax calculation.


Update from HMRC: HMRC is working though each of the cases to correct the error. In the meantime, if a taxpayer (or their agent) affected by this issue contacts HMRC the error will be referred to the Marriage Allowance Assisted Digital team for correction.


4. Recipient tax calculation not being adjusted. Where the transferor and recipient both complete self assessment returns, the transferor's tax calculation is being amended correctly but the related adjustment isn't always flowing across to the recipient’s tax calculation.


Update from HMRC: HMRC is still investigating this issue and seeking a solution.


We are still awaiting a response from HMRC on the fact that the guidance on GOV.UK on marriage allowance is technically incorrectly, because it introduces an income limit which is not a condition in the legislation (details in our previous news item).


  • Some 3 months (or more) after the problem was identified by HMRC, we are only being told now after countless hours of wasted time on correspondence?

  • "..further cases then came to light which highlighted an error in the original software specification."

    Whose responsibility is it to check that the sofware specification is correct?

    This is not the first example of errors in tax software specification, and it won't be the last.

    What is needed is an independent body that checks HMRC's software specifications meet set standards, and are audited against those standards.