Legislation in Summer Finance Bill 2015 introduces a tapered reduction in the annual allowance from 6 April 2016, for those with an ‘adjusted income’ of over £150,000.
The ‘adjusted income’ definition adds-back any pension contributions, to prevent individuals from avoiding the restriction by exchanging salary for employer contributions.
To provide certainty for individuals with lower salaries who may have one off spikes in their employer pension contributions, a net income threshold of £110,000 will apply. If the individual’s net income is no more than £110,000 they will not normally be subject to the tapered annual allowance. However, anti-avoidance rules will apply so that any salary sacrifice set up on or after 9 July 2015 will be included in the threshold definition. The rate of reduction in the annual allowance is by £1 for every £2 that the adjusted income exceeds £150,000, up to a maximum reduction of £30,000.
All pension input periods open on 8 July 2015 are closed on that date, with the next pension input period running from 9 July 2015 to 5 April 2016. All subsequent pension input periods will be concurrent with the tax year.
To prevent retrospective taxation, individuals will have an £80,000 annual allowance for 2015-16, but subject to a £40,000 allowance for savings from 9 July 2015 to 5 April 2016. To achieve this, the 2015-16 tax year will be split into two notional periods: 6 April 2015 to 8 July 2015, the ‘pre-alignment tax year’ and 9 July 2015 to 5 April 2016, the ‘post-alignment tax year’. All individuals will have an annual allowance of £80,000 for the ‘pre-alignment tax year’. Where this amount has not been used in the ‘pre-alignment tax year’, it will be carried forward to the post-alignment tax year, subject to a maximum of £40,000. In addition, any unused annual allowance from the previous 3 years can be added to these amounts in the normal way.
The transition arrangements for 2015-16 mean that taxpayers who paid sizeable pension premiums in the period to 8 July 2015 (perhaps in anticipation of Budget changes) may be able to have a second bite at the cherry.
As readers will appreciate these are complex changes. Taxpayers who feel they may be affected should take professional advice.