HMRC
Computer errors have cost married couples dearReuters

Thousands of people have so far missed out on a new tax concession for married couples because of computer problems. The concession is worth up to £212 and elderly and low-income families are among those affected, according to reporting by the Daily Mail.

The difficulties have been caused by a £25m computer system called Verify. Many claimants have been unable to use it to register for the concession.

The core problem for applicants is validating their identities, as the system is too rigorous. It asks for an extensive range of documentation, including items many applicants do not possess.

The marriage tax concession was introduced in the 2014 budget. It permits one spouse to transfer £1,060 of their unused tax allowance to the other. The person carrying out the transfer must be a non-taxpayer and the transferee must be on the basic tax rate of 20%: this makes the maximum saving £212.

The application process opened in February. Applicants are asked for details of their credit cards, mortgage, passport and photo driving licences. Many elderly couples, in particular, lack one or more of these.

Carol Figg, 68, a retired children's nurse who lives in Bristol, said: "I couldn't get the transfer from my husband John, as I don't have a driving licence or a credit rating. I don't have any credit cards, mortgage or loans in my name."

Meanwhile Colin Thornton, 68, a retired textile worker from Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire could not register because neither he nor his wife had a photo driving licence.

He said: "We were directed to use the service that said we only needed either a passport or a new type of driving licence. But after completing several pages and choosing several security answers we came to a page asking for both – which meant we couldn't go any further."

In response to the problems, HMRC says it is introducing another computer system to assist couples who cannot use Verify. It states that they can also apply for the allowance directly on the HMRC website or visit a HMRC office.