The UK government's Marriage Allowance is a genuinely smart way to keep your hard-earned cash out of the taxman's greedy claws. It's not that complicated to sort it out, but somehow the message just isn't getting through. Right now, barely a quarter of eligible couples are taking advantage of the scheme, and it's costing them real money. Are Britain's married couples really that keep to keep lining HMRC's pockets? We don't think so, and we think it's well past time to sort this out.

Here's how the system works. Under the Marriage Allowance rules, you can transfer a chunk of your annual tax-free Personal Allowance to your spouse or civil partner. All you need to qualify is to be:

  • Married or in a civil partnership.
  • Earning under £11,000 yourself.
  • Transferring to a partner who earns between £11,001 and £43,000

Currently, most people in the UK have a tax code that gives them a personal allowance of £11,000. This allowance means they can earn up to that amount without paying a penny in tax. If you aren't using up all of your personal allowance yourself, Marriage Allowance lets you still get some benefit from it. It transfers £1,100 of your tax-free allowance to your partner, bringing their tax bill down by up to £220. Better yet, if you didn't do this last year, you can backdate it and knock their tax down by over £400!

You can apply for Marriage Allowance online pretty easily. All it takes are a few details about you and your partner. Even so, nowhere near enough people are opting into the scheme. Over 3 million couples are getting left out in the cold by not applying, and HMRC's having a tough time understanding why. With finances always tight around the end of the year, imagine how an extra £400 stuffed in your Christmas stocking could help out with those festive expenses.

No matter how it sometimes seems, the taxman really isn't trying to cheat you. He just doesn't always do a good job of telling you what you're entitled to, or how to get it. Pooling your personal allowance with your partner could be a big boost to your income after tax. It make good sense to jump on the Marriage Allowance scheme, so do yourself a favour and get organised.

Most importantly, remember that if you've got any questions or problems, RIFT is always here to help. We're the UK's leading tax and refund experts, so get in touch to make sure you're getting the most from your money.