Cohabiting couples in Laois who are not married deserve equal tax treatment

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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A new survey reveals that there are thousands of “cohabiting couples” in Laois and other Leinster counties – who are not getting the tax breaks of those enjoyed by married couples. 

Protection specialist, Royal London believe that perhaps the Government need to give greater thought to making changes.

Royal London undertook research to gauge people’s perceptions on some of the emerging issues in relation to the new fluid family unit. IReach 1,000 people throughout the country of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds to ascertain whether or not they would support a change in the tax treatment of couples who choose not to get married – but who are still in long-term committed cohabiting relationships.

 Michelle Murphy, Royal London Broker Consultant in Laois commented, “As cohabiting couples are, by far, the fastest-growing type of new family unit in Ireland perhaps it’s time that they’re considered within the current tax regime. While the Minister’s position around the complexity of making any alternations to the current tax regime is understandable, our survey shows there would be a lot of public support for change.

What our survey revealed is that a significant majority (79%) of people think couples who choose not to marry but who are in long term committed relationships should be given the same tax treatment as married couples.

"Marriage isn’t for everyone and it appears from the results of our study that most people don’t have any issue with a more equitable tax treatment for those who choose not to tie the knot.”

The survey showed that 80% of people in Leinster outside Dublin think those couple who choose not to marry but who have children are in long term committed relationships should be given the same tax treatment as married couples.

Lates CSO statistics show that the number of cohabiting couples in Ireland has been on the increase. Figures rose from 77,600 in 2002 to 121,800 in 2006 accounting for 11.6% of all family units, before rising to 143,600 or 12% in 2011. 

Although this new family unit is becoming more and more common, in the Dáil recently Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan said, in response to a Private Members Question, that the tax treatment of “different categories of couples, arise from the objective of respecting the Constitutional requirements to protect the institution of marriage”.

He also said that, “any change in the tax treatment of cohabiting couples can only be addressed in the broader context of future social and legal policy development in relation to such couples” and implementing changes to the tax treatment of such couples would be “difficult, intrusive and time-consuming”.