November 22, 2019 Last updated November 21st, 2019 60 Reads share

How Is Pension Income Taxed?

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The basics of tax on pension income

If your total annual income exceeds your personal allowance, then you are liable to pay taxes. Learn more about your personal allowance and income tax rates by speaking to a tax accountant or a qualified chartered account.

What is included in your total income?

Your total annual income:

  1. Includes your state pension (either basic State Pension or New State Pension)
  2. Includes your Additional State Pension
  3. Includes your income from employment or self-employment
  4. Includes your private pension, of which some portion can be enjoyed tax-free
  5. Includes your taxable benefits
  6. Includes your earnings from other sources such as investment, savings or property

If you are receiving a large portion from your private pension, you may be required to pay income tax at a higher rate, which also implies that you will be liable to pay more taxes at the end of the tax year. Seek advice from a competent financial advisor and an accountant when setting up a pension scheme.

What if your private pension is over £1,055,000?

You are liable to pay a tax charge if the total value of your private pension exceeds £1,055,000. Your tax charge will be deducted by the pension provider before you get your hands on the payment.

What about when someone inherits your pension?

Different rules are applicable if someone inherits your State Pension or Private Pension.

What if your total income does not add up to more than your personal allowance?

You will not be liable to pay taxes if your total income does not add up to more than your personal allowance.

What about taking lump sums from your pension?

You can withdraw 25% of the amount from any pension as a tax-free lump-sum. This does not affect your personal allowance.

The remaining amount will be taxed before you receive it

For instance, your entire pension is worth £40,000 of which you can take up to £10,000 (25%) as tax-free while the remaining £30,000(75%) will be subject to taxation.

If you are receiving a large portion from your private pension, you may be required to pay income tax at a higher rate, which also implies that you will be liable to pay more taxes at the end of the tax year

Drawing down your pension

For pension up to £10,000

If your pension is worth up to £10,000 you can take it together. This is known as ‘small pot’ lump sum. By taking this option, you can derive 25% of your pension tax-free.

You generally:

  1. Get to enjoy about 3 small pot lump sums from various personal pensions.
  2. Get to enjoy unlimited small pot lump sums from various workplace pensions.

For a pension of up to £30,000 with defined pension benefits included.

If your pension amounts up to £30,000 or less then you can receive everything included in your defined benefit pension or contribution pension as a ‘trivial commutation’ lump sum. By taking this option, you can derive 25% of your pension tax-free.

However, if your lump sum is paid from more than one pension, then you must ensure that:

  1. You have to get your savings from each scheme valued by the pension provider on the very same day, given that you take no more than 3 months before receiving your first payment.
  2. You receive every payment within 12 months of the first payment

Remember that you will be required to pay tax on the whole lump sum if you are taking payments from a pension before taking the remaining as a lump sum.

Your accountant or tax accountant will make sure that this is done for you properly.

Tax Accountant

What about cash from a defined contribution pension?

You need to ask your pension provider on how you can take cash from a defined contribution pension. However, you are liable to:

  1. Withdraw all the amount of the pension as cash- of which up to 25% is tax-free.
  2. Take smaller cash sums- of which up to 25% of each sum is tax-free

Remember that you may be liable to pay a tax charge on the amount of money you add in your pension after withdrawing cash.

What if your life expectancy is less than a year?

You may get to enjoy all your money in your pension as a tax-free lump sum, if and only if the following conditions apply:

  1. You are not expected to live for more than a year due to some serious condition or illness.
  2. Your age is below 75 years.
  3. Your lifetime allowance is not more than £1,055,000 in your pension savings.

However, you are required to pay income tax on the lump sum, if your age is above 75 years. You also need to talk to your pension provider as some of the pension funds keep a minimum of 50% of your pension for your spouse or civil partner. Make sure when you are designing a pension scheme you speak to your accountant or accounting firm to help you design a drawdown strategy. If you do not have an accountant you can always find a competent accountant in London.

How can you pay your taxes?

What if you have a State Pension and Private Pension?

Your pension provider will deduct your liable taxes (they will also take off any taxes due on your State Pension) before they pay you.

If you are receiving payments from more than one pension provider (for instance you are receiving payments from your workplace and private pension, then HMRC may ask one of your providers to deduct the taxes owed from the State Pension.

You’ll receive a P60 from your pension provider at the end of the tax year. The P60 shows how much tax you have paid in a particular tax year. Your tax accountant or accounting firm will request this from you when preparing your self-assessment tax return.

What if your only pension source is the State Pension?

If the State pension is the only income you receive, then you will be expected to be responsible for anything that you owe. You will be required to complete and send a Self Assessment tax return for anything that you owe.

However, if you started receiving income from your pension fund after 6 April 2016, you will not be required to send a tax return but instead, HMRC will inform you about anything that you owe and how you can pay.

What if you continue with employment?

If you continue to work, your employer will deduct any taxes owed from your earnings and State Pension. This is what is known as Pay As You Earn tax  (PAYE tax).

What if you are self-employed?

You will be liable to file a Self Assessment tax return to HMRC at the end of every tax year. You are liable to mention your total income, State pension and income from private pensions, for instance, your workplace pension.

What about income from other sources?

You are responsible for any taxes you owe on the income earned through other sources and not from your pension. You might be requested to send in your Self Assessment tax return.

Remember, you are always allowed to claim a tax refund if you think you have overpaid for the tax. You will need to speak to your personal tax accountant about this.

What do you need to know about tax codes?

You’ll be assigned a single tax code if you only have one source of income. Similarly, you might be assigned different tax codes if you are earning from different sources. You can request a tax code correction if you think it is incorrect.

What about your tax if you are living abroad?

You will be liable to pay UK tax on your pension if you have a status of a UK resident for tax purposes and are living abroad. The amount of tax you owe entirely depends upon the amount of income you earn.

Similarly, you will not be required to pay tax on your pension if you are not a UK resident. You might be required to pay tax in the country you are residing in. However, you should know that there might be exceptions, for instance, some pensions like the UK civil service pension will only and always be taxed in the United Kingdom (UK).

What if you are living in a country without a double taxation agreement with the UK?

You might be liable to pay taxes in both countries (the UK and the country you are living in). Having access to a highly competent accountant or tax accountant will help you save tax.

Thao Le

Thao Le

Thao Le is a Senior Accounting Manager at Clear House Accountants. Having worked and grown in the industry for a number of years she is now responsible for a team of accountants, tax planners and bookkeepers, working with them to help clients from a variety of industries, grow, save money and plan for the future. Thao holds a Bachelor and Masters degree in Accounting and Finance and is currently working towards her ACCA, she is also a Xero and Quickbooks Certified Advisor. Thao believes her expertise lies in high-level tax planning, management accounting and strategic business planning based on financial performance and business analytics. Her experience, expertise and knowledge make her an exceptional contributor at clear house towards various articles and research content.

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