How you might benefit
There are principally four criteria to consider:
- Are you married or in a civil partnership?
- Does one of the two of you have income of £10,600 or less (and this can include an additional £5,000 of savings interest)?
- Is the other a basic rate tax-payer (broadly speaking income of between £10,601 and £42,385)?
- Were you both born after 6 April 1935? (those born before get a more generous allowance already)
If the answer to all of the above four questions is yes then the spouse (or civil partner) which has the unused personal allowance can transfer £1,060 (and no more) to the other. As this means 20% less income tax is paid on the £1,060, the potential saving could be £212.
If the lower earning spouse (or civil partner) has less than £1,060 available they must still transfer the full £1,060. This means they will end up paying basic rate tax – still of benefit but a classic unnecessary over-complication!
You can register online here. Apparently HMRC are issuing notification in batches. Usually you will receive a tax code amendment, but it can take up to 14 weeks.