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Tax and benefits system 'putting people off marriage'

Tax and benefits system 'putting people off marriage'
Some people may be being put off getting married or cohabiting with their partners because of the tax and benefits system in the UK.

This is according to a new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which suggested that there are so-called "couple penalties".

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the paper said that these arise because much state support is means-tested against the joint income of a couple, rather than on an individual basis.

For this reason, behaviour is distorted, the study noted. As well as being less likely to tie to knot or move in with one another, couples are encouraged to make fraudulent claims for benefits or tax credits, it suggested.

Eliminating couple penalties can only be achieved by assessing all benefits, tax credits and taxes against an individual's circumstances, the report concluded.

Government policy concerning this issue will be affected by the outcome of this week's general election.