On 19 July 2010 the "Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitant Act 2010" was signed into law. This was followed by a ministerial order on 24 December 2010. The Act, which serves to confer certain rights, obligations and protections to same and opposite sex cohabiting couples came into force from 1 January 2011. To find out if your living arrangements entitle you to a tax refund please ask our live chat team.
The Act defines a qualifying cohabitant as someone who has lived with their partner for at least 2 years if they have one or more dependent children or at least 5 years if they have no dependent children. A qualifying cohabitant may, under the provisions of the act, obtain redress from the courts in the same way as a married individual would. The Act, therefore, provides protection to the financially dependent partner in the event that the relationship ends.
The Act is quite detailed and provides for amendments to a number of other pieces of legislation in order to cover issues including rights to the family home, the payment of maintenance, pension arrangements and rights for the surviving partner following the death of the other partner.
There is provision in the act for individuals to enter into a cohabitants' agreement in order to avoid the effects of the act. However, such an agreement may be disregarded if the courts determine that the result of the agreement is unjust.
Amendments will be required to the tax and social welfare acts in respect of the Civil Partnership Act. Currently cohabiting couples are treated separately for tax and social security purposes and it is likely that this will change, providing for similar conditions as those applying to married couples.
These items were not dealt with in the 2011 Finance Bill as the government was under pressure to have this bill passed without delay. It is expected that the amendments will happen in the next finance and social welfare bills, appearing as part of Finance (No.2) Bill 2011 shortly.
The legislation is in progress and will contain details of the changes and the date when each change will take effect. It is expected that all the tax and social security amendments will be effective for the entire 2011 tax year but as the legislation has not yet been passed the current legislation continues to apply.
We will provide a further update on this issue once more information becomes available. If you would like to know if your current circumstances entitle you to a refund please ask our live chat team now.