Tax Glossary

Civil Partnership

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Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

A civil partnership is a legally recognised union between two individuals who are not related, designed to provide legal acknowledgment of their relationship. Initially introduced in 2004 through the Civil Partnership Act, this form of union was originally exclusive to same-sex couples but has since been expanded to include opposite-sex couples as well, offering an alternative to traditional marriage.

Differences Between Civil Partnership and Marriage

While civil partnerships and marriages offer similar legal standings and implications, there are notable distinctions:

  • Formation: Marriages are typically established through spoken vows, whereas civil partnerships are formed by signing a legal document.
  • Termination: The dissolution processes differ; marriages end in divorce, while civil partnerships conclude with a dissolution.
  • Grounds for Termination: Adultery is recognized as grounds for ending a marriage but does not apply to civil partnerships.
  • Origins: Marriage has historical roots in religious practices, whereas civil partnerships were created as a legal institution.

Despite these differences, both unions require legal registration in the presence of witnesses and are equally binding under the law.

Registering for a Civil Partnership

To form a civil partnership, couples must meet certain criteria:

  • Both individuals must be at least 16 years old.
  • They should not be closely related by blood.
  • Neither partner can be legally married or in another civil partnership.

Once eligibility is confirmed, the next steps involve giving notice and planning the ceremony, which can be religious, civil, or otherwise, depending on the couple's preference.

Tax Implications of Civil Partnerships

Civil partnerships grant couples the same tax advantages as married couples, including:

  • Inheritance Tax: Assets passed to the surviving partner are exempt from Inheritance Tax.
  • Council Tax: Partners are jointly responsible for Council Tax payments.
  • Marriage Allowance: Eligibility for the Marriage Allowance, which allows a portion of one partner's unused personal allowance to be transferred to the other.
  • Capital Gains Tax: Transfers of assets between partners do not trigger Capital Gains Tax.
  • Principal Private Residence: Only one residence can be nominated for principal private residence relief.
  • Tax Credits: Joint claims for tax credits must be made, considering both partners' incomes.

These provisions ensure that civil partners enjoy equitable treatment under tax laws, mirroring the rights afforded to married couples.

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