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Business Tax  •  Personal tax  •  Tax Planning  •  Tax Relief  •  Uncategorized

Pensions tax planning: Make your pension as tax efficient as possible  

By RJP LLP on 21 February 2017


  1. Claim higher rate tax relief on pension contributions

A standard pension annual allowance of £40,000 per person per year was introduced from 6 April 2016. This is the maximum combined amount you and your employer can invest in a pension tax-free, provided your total income does not exceed £110,000; the standard annual allowance reduces by £1 for every £2 of your income that exceeds the £110,000 threshold. For anyone earning £210,000 or more, the maximum allowance reduces to £10,000.


  1. Bring forward unused pension allowance

If you have not used your full pension allowance in previous years and are already part of a registered pension scheme, it is possible to bring forward unused allowances from as early as 2013/14 to increase your current year’s allowance. However, before making pension contributions, it is important to understand whether they will exceed your available allowance. If contributions exceed the allowance available, a tax charge will arise so that tax relief is withdrawn.


  1. Protect a large pension pot

There is a lifetime limit in place, which restricts the level of funds that can be held in a pension tax-free. The lifetime allowance (LTA) is currently £1m and any funds held beyond this amount will incur penalty charges when you start to take pension benefits. Prior to 6 April 2016, the limit was £1.25m and if you already have a pension pot larger than £1m, you can elect for 'individual protection 2016' (IP16). This has the effect of preserving the individual LTA at the actual value of your pension fund at 5 April 2016. Before doing anything, it is essential to take advice from a pension specialist about whether to opt for IP16 and the long-term implications of doing this.


  1. Set up a pension for your children

Anyone resident in the UK is entitled to have a stakeholder pension, including children. If you have funds available, it is possible to contribute up to £2,880 net into a pension each year for anyone in your family, including children who have no any earnings.


  1. Contribute to a pension for your grandchildren

If you have grandchildren, you can also make contributions to your children's pension schemes on their behalf. Doing this means they get the tax relief and the payments are treated as reducing their taxable income.


  1. Take pension drawdown if aged over 55

If you are aged 55 or over, depending on the type of pension you have, you may be able to start drawing pension benefits now from a personal pension (e.g. a SIPP). This can apply even if you are still working but there are tax implications to doing this, which will vary depending on the type of pension scheme you have. It is important to seek specialist advice before making any withdrawals.


  1. Benefit from tax-free employer pension contributions

For employees and directors of close companies paying income tax at the basic rate, employer pension contributions can be very tax efficient. This is because there is no tax to pay on the benefit to the employee and the employer can claim a business tax deduction. If you own the company, this can be a tax-efficient way to extract value.


  1. Use salary sacrifice to top up your pension

Although the rules concerning salary sacrifice schemes were changed in the most recent budget, employer contributions to pensions were not restricted. For everyone except the highest earners, it may be worthwhile using a salary sacrifice scheme and exchanging a proportion of salary in return for your employer making a larger pension contribution. This enables you to benefit from extra pension tax relief and reduces the amount of NICs that would otherwise be payable by both employer and employee.

However, this strategy may not be beneficial for higher rate taxpayers with an income of £110,000. This is because any pension contributions made by your employer may be used to calculate your overall entitlement to tax relief and whether an additional charge may be applied.


  1. Use your pension for inheritance tax planning

If you don’t need to draw down on your pension, you can retain its value and write it in trust for your children to inherit after your death, free of inheritance tax. This is a valuable strategy as part of overall inheritance tax planning.


For more information on pensions tax planning options, email


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