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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Special Cases: Married Women: Position from 6 April 1977: General

Regulations 126-139, SS(C)R 2001

Social Security Pensions Act 1975

The Social Security Pensions Act 1975 and associated regulations took away the right ofa married woman to elect to pay reduced rate Class 1 contributions and not to pay Class 2contributions where she married on or after 6 April 1977. The Act laid down that -

  • a woman married on or after 6 April 1977 cannot elect to pay reduced rate Class 1 contributions or elect not to pay Class 2 contributions while self-employed;
  • a woman married before 6 April 1977 can keep her right to pay reduced rate contributions if she made the choice before 12 May 1977;
  • a woman’s right to reduced liability ends if she cancels or is treated as having cancelled her election, her marriage ends by divorce or annulment or she fails the ‘2 year test’, see NIM30004;
  • a woman with full liability at the end of the tax year in which she reaches age 59 retains full liability until age 60;
  • from 6 April 1978, a married woman over age 60 is not liable for contributions on earnings for periods after that age whatever her pension position is;
  • a woman who is divorced after 5 April 1977 cannot continue to have reduced liability even if she re-marries in the same tax year; and
  • an election made or deemed to be made under the Social Security Act 1975 counts as an election under the Social Security Pensions Act.

Liability for contributions

A married woman has the same liability as a single woman if she was married on or after6 April 1977 (except some widows who remarry on or before 6 April 1977 – see NIM31000) but did not elect to have reduced liability by 11 May1977. If a woman who was married before 6 April 1977 has a reduced rate election or deemedelection, then for any period covered by the election she is –

  • liable for primary Class 1 contributions at the reduced rate;
  • not liable for Class 2 contributions; and
  • not allowed to pay Class 3 contributions.

A woman with an election must pay standard rate contributions if -

  • she cancels her election, referred to in the regulations as revocation; or
  • her election lapses under the “2 year test” (see NIM30004 & NIM30005). That is, since 6 April 1978 there are two consecutive tax years during which she;

 

  • had no earnings on which Class 1 NICs were payable or are treated as paid (see NIM01007); or
  • was not self-employed during that period; or

 

  • her marriage ends by divorce or annulment.

A woman who cancelled her election before 6 April 1983 could pay standard ratecontributions only from the beginning of the next tax year following that in which anystandard rate contributions were first wrongly paid.