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Pensions for high earners

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This note applies to UK residents only

The tapered annual allowance came into force as 6th April 2016 and was changed with effect from 5th April 2020 for high earners. For every £2 of income above £240,000 per annum, £1 of annual allowance will be lost. The reduction is capped so that the minimum allowance you will get is £4,000.

An income floor will mean the taper will not apply unless the individual’s income excluding pension contributions exceeds £200,000 (referred to as their “threshold income”).

‍If you exceed the allowance

If you exceed the annual allowance in a year, you won’t receive tax relief – on any contributions you paid that exceed the limit and you will be faced with an annual allowance charge equal to the excess contributions.

The annual allowance charge will be added to the rest of your taxable income for the tax year in question, when determining your tax liability. Alternatively, if the annual allowance charge is more than £2,000, you can ask your pension scheme to pay the charge from your benefits. This means your pension scheme benefits would be reduced. Some pension providers will allow the transfer of the excess to future year(s).

Unless you have a Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA), you may be able to bring forward any unused annual allowances from the previous three tax years, to either reduce your annual allowance charge to a lower amount or reduce the annual allowance charge completely.

For a money purchase pension, the “contribution” is simply the gross premium paid. For defined benefit schemes, the position is a lot more complicated and your pension provider or scheme administrator should be able to give you your pension input amount for that scheme. This refers to the amount of contributions or value of accrued benefits during the pension input period. If you think that you may be getting close to your annual allowance, or may have exceeded it, you may wish to consider taking advice from an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA).

The HMRC Manual for pension administrators explains the position as follows:

If your member’s savings go above the annual allowance they may need to pay an annual allowance tax charge.

You’ll need to test your member’s pension savings against the annual allowance using the:

  • ‍actual amount of contributions for defined contribution arrangements
  • increase in the value of benefit rights for other types of arrangements (such as defined benefits)

If your income is in excess of £150,000 and you or your employer are making substantial pension contributions, you must check with your IFA to protect your position. It also helps to let us know too.

For help with this or any other taxation matter, get in touch

The information contained in this article is believed to be correct at the time of publication. The content of this article is intended to be a brief summary of the principal points of the legislation or proposed legislation only, and it is provided for general guidance only. It may not take into account subsequent changes in the law and of necessity it omits much detail. Taxation is a complicated subject and is subject to change. You should only rely on advice prepared specifically for you. Neither the writer nor Landlords Tax Services Ltd can be held liable for any loss arising from any act or omission by you as a result of your understanding of this article. If the subject matter is of interest you should contact us to see if there is a relevant update, and to take professional advice which takes into account your circumstances.

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