In recent years this has been somewhat improved. Where it has been financially worthwhile, the wife has been able to elect to have her earnings taxed separately. However, this has not been entirely satisfactory because only those who have made a conscious effort to make use of this provision have been able to benefit. Husbands, of course, have not had to suffer any similar provisions.
Investment (unearned) income and capital gains
Even worse than the treatment of married women's income has been the treatment of investment or unearned income and capital gains. The married woman's tax allowance relates to earned income only; it cannot be offset against investment income (income from share dividends, building society accounts, unit trusts, etc.) or capital gains (capital profits on the sale of property, antiques, shares, etc.). A married couple has enjoyed no greater allowance than a single person.
Again this seems to have originated from the presumption that women are not financially independent. However, its perpetuation has been financially expedient for successive governments.