The Conservatives are proposing to give four million married couples and civil partners an annual £150 tax break.
Under their plan, the tax break would apply to basic rate taxpayers earning under £44,000 where one partner does not use their full personal allowance.
The Tories would achieve the tax break by allowing some people who are married or in a civil partnership to transfer part of their tax free personal allowance to their spouse or partner.
That spouse would be able to transfer £750 of their personal tax-free allowance to their working partner, which the Tories say will represent a tax cut of about £150 a year for four million people.
Apparently, according to Tory sources, it's a 'symbol and message' about marriage. But since when does a 'symbol and message' need monetary expression? Seems more like a patronising and worthless little tip to me. Anyway, I'm really not interested in the approbation of that lot, or indeed anyone. Who on earth do they think they are?
It doesn't even work on its own terms. It's not really about marriage in general or it would apply to any married couple. It actually recognises the merits of having one of you (in reality almost invariably the wife) stay at home and not earn; a pat on the back for these already generally fortunate people.
But where both parents working is an option freely taken without regard for financial considerations, what business is it of government to implicitly send the 'message' that your marriage doesn't merit a government 'symbol' of meritoriousness? And where both of you working is an option taken for financial considerations - so the mortgage can be paid or holidays and treats afforded and so on - then surely the state has even less business in withholding its gold star?
There's an argument to be had about the benefits of one parent staying at home to look after kids. But the presence of children isn't a factor here. A childless married couple where one partner doesn't work would benefit (as long as the earner was on less that £44k). A married couple with children where both partners worked wouldn't (unless one of them earns less than about £6k). What possible wider social benefit is there in this arrangement?
I wonder how many people find this policy as stupid and offensive as I do?