Marriage Allowance - backdated years


I believe that we meet the criteria for this for the current tax year.  In fact I believe that we meet the criteria for 3 of the past 4 years (I 'just' moved into the Higher rate of income tax last year and for that year only, whilst my partner - who would be making the application - has been below the threshold for the entire period).  I understand that the claim can be backdated for four years.  Is that something you specifically have to request when making the application or are the four years looked at automatically?  If I wasn't eligible for one of the years would it cause any problems?


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