Several new measures impacting individuals, and therefore pensions professionals, were announced as part of the budget delivered on March 11.
Call for evidence on pension tax administration
Those earning around or below the level of the personal allowance and saving into a pension may benefit from a top-up on their pension savings equivalent to the basic rate of tax, even if they pay no tax.
Whether they receive this top-up depends on how their pension scheme administers tax relief. The government has committed to reviewing options for addressing these differences and will shortly publish a call for evidence on pensions tax relief administration.
Tapered annual allowance for pensions
The pensions annual allowance is the maximum amount of tax-relieved pension savings that can be accrued in a year. For those on the highest incomes, the annual allowance tapers down from £40,000. HM Treasury has reviewed the tapered annual allowance and its impact on the NHS, as well as on public service delivery more widely.
To support the delivery of public services, particularly in the NHS, the two tapered annual allowance thresholds will each be raised by £90,000. This means that from 2020-21 the “threshold income” will be £200,000, so individuals with income below this level will not be affected by the tapered annual allowance, and the annual allowance will only begin to taper down for individuals who also have an “adjusted income” above £240,000.
For those on the very highest incomes, the minimum level to which the annual allowance can taper down will reduce from £10,000 to £4,000 from April 2020. This reduction will only affect individuals with total income (including pension accrual) over £300,000. Proposals to offer greater pay in lieu of pensions for senior clinicians in the NHS pension scheme will not be taken forward.
Lifetime allowance for pensions
The lifetime allowance, the maximum amount someone can accrue in a registered pension scheme in a tax-efficient manner over their lifetime, will increase in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI) for 2020-21, rising to £1,073,100.
Starting rate for savings tax band
The band of savings income that is subject to the 0 percent starting tax rate will remain at its current level of £5,000 for 2020-21.
Individual Savings Account (ISA) annual subscription limit
The adult ISA annual subscription limit for 2020-21 will remain unchanged at £20,000.
Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund annual subscription limit
The annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs and Child Trust Funds will be increased from £4,368 to £9,000.
Universal Credit to Pension Credit transition
The budget confirmed funding for an operational change to ensure claimants do not experience a gap in their benefit entitlement when moving from Universal Credit to Pension Credit.
Extension to Civil Partnerships: State Pension
The Civil Partnerships (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 give opposite-sex couples the choice of entering into marriage or civil partnership. The budget has provided funding which ensures individuals can derive or inherit a State Pension from an opposite-sex civil partner.