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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Technical Manual

Decision Making, Joint or Single claims: Definition of a couple

The Tax Credits Act 2002, Section 3(5A)

A couple means:

  • two people who are married to each other and are not:

    • separated under a court order, or
    • separated in circumstances in which the separation is likely to be permanent
  • two people who are not married to each other but are living together as if they were (LTAMC),
  • two people of the same sex who are civil partners of each other and are not:

    • separated under a court order, or
    • separated in circumstances in which the separation is likely to be permanent, or

Married couples and civil partners should make a joint claim to tax credits from the date they marry or become civil partners, even if they do not begin living in the same household.

Couples who live together before they marry or form a civil partnership may need to claim tax credit jointly at an earlier date, see TCTM09340.

Example - joint claim, married couple

A married couple with children have grown apart and rarely spend time together. He eats most of his evening meals at the pub but still lives in the family home and occasionally contributes towards the household bills. They decided not to separate until their children have grown up so they should make a joint claim as they are still married and not separated legally or in circumstances where the separation is likely to become permanent.

Example - joint claim on marriage

Two people who are in a relationship but who each lives with their respective parents marry but continue to live separately with their respective parents so they can better save for a deposit on a home of their own. They should make a joint claim from the date of their marriage.

Example - joint claim, couple who live together

Two people who are in a relationship and previously lived at separate addresses decide to live together prior to them getting married. From the date they start living together as a married couple they should make a joint claim for tax credits. This may not be the date they move in together as they may choose not to live together as a couple until they marry, for instance due to religious beliefs.