Pensions tax simplification

On the 6th April 2006 major changes were introduced to the structure of UK Pension schemes. These changes heralded probably the most radical overhaul of the UKs' Pension tax regime. The new simplified regime is largely a replacement of the past pension framework as opposed to the addition of another layer of legislation. Many changes were introduced, some of the main ones are as follows:-

Introduction of a Lifetime Allowance

Each member of a pension scheme has a maximum permitted tax-exempt fund at retirement. This Lifetime Allowance is currently £1 million per person (2017/2018 tax year).

Contributions & The Annual Allowance

There is now an annual pension input allowance, (known as the Annual Allowance) set at £40,000 (for the 2017/2018 tax year), for all pension schemes. An individual can now contribute up to 100% of their earnings (up to a maximum of £40,000) or £3,600 whichever is the greater.

Pension Commencement Lump Sum (Tax free Cash)

The maximum Pension Commencement lump sum (Tax Free Cash) from any pension arrangement is 25% of the value of the pension rights.

Retirement Age

The concept of a normal retirement age is less definite than it was in the past, members of pension schemes can choose (within certain age ranges) when to take their benefits, making the process of retiring more flexible. The minimum age for drawing benefits is 55.

Death Benefits

The maximum lump sum death benefit is simply equal to the lifetime allowance, so currently this is £1 million.

(There are transitional provisions made in respect to some of these key areas of planning and in respect to over-funding the government have introduced some tax charges.)

Drawing your pension

Retirement income is now classified under 3 main headings:-

1) Scheme Pensions - typically, drawing your income directly from your employers occupational pension scheme.

2) Lifetime Annuities - taking your income as an annuity. Commonly associated with drawing income from Personal pension / Stakeholder pension type schemes

3) Unsecured Pension - Pension Fund Withdrawal / Income Drawdown and Phased retirement

These are some of the headline changes to Pension legislation. The new rules are quite detailed and will affect different people in different ways, so to see how the new changes may have affected you please contact us.

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