How much can I pay into a pension?
The amount you’re able to put into your pension depends on two government-set limits. These two limits are the annual allowance and the lifetime allowance. It’s important to understand these limits and how they apply to you because if you go over them you may have to pay a tax charge.
What is the annual allowance?
The annual allowance is a figure set by the government each tax year, specifying how much money you can contribute to your pensions without incurring any tax charges. For most people, the annual allowance is £60,000 for the 2023/24 tax year. It applies across all the pensions you may have – it is not a ‘per pension limit’.
If you’re a UK taxpayer and under the age of 75, you’re able to get tax relief on pension contributions of up to 100% of your earnings, or on contributions up to the government-set annual allowance, whichever is the lower of the two.
If you’re not working or not earning enough to pay income tax, you’re still able to receive tax relief on contributions you, or anyone else, make to your pension – up to a maximum of £3,600 in a tax year.
It’s important to remember that the annual allowance includes contributions made by you, your employer, or anyone else contributing to your pension. It also includes any government tax relief – so make sure you factor this into your calculations.
The annual allowance does not apply to pension transfers: transferring a pension during the tax year won’t reduce your annual allowance.
If you exceed your annual allowance, you may have to pay an annual allowance charge. This is not at a fixed amount, but depends on your taxable income and the excess contributions you’ve put into your pension. It may also depend on whether you had any unused annual allowance from the previous three tax years.
As with many rules, there are some exceptions to the annual allowance rule.
Your annual allowance may be lower if:
- your ‘adjusted income’ is over £150,000 per year.
- your annual allowance will be tapered and reduced, according to your earnings, to a minimum of £10,000.
- you’ve already flexibly accessed your pension.
- In these cases, your annual allowance is reduced and you can only contribute up to £10,000 each year.
Can you make pension contributions from previous tax years?
Yes, you can make pension contributions from previous tax years, by using the pension ‘carry forward’ rules.
Carry forward allows you to receive tax relief on any unused portion of your annual allowance from the previous three tax years, as long as you were a member of a pension scheme during those years.
To use carry forward, you must make the maximum allowable contribution in the current tax year – £60,000 in 2023/24 – after which you can then use any unused annual allowances from the three previous tax years.
It’s important to remember that you’re not able to receive tax relief on contributions in excess of your earnings in a tax year and you’ll only receive higher-rate tax relief to the extent you’ve paid the higher rate of tax.
Carry forward may be particularly helpful if you’re self-employed, your earnings can change significantly each year, or if you’re looking to make very large pension contributions.
What was the lifetime allowance?
The lifetime allowance was a set limit on the amount that you could take from all of your pensions without having to pay any extra tax charges.
In March 2023, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrapped the pension Lifetime Allowance. The Lifetime Allowance charge, which was the tax charge that would apply to pensions that exceed the LTA limit, was scrapped in April 2023, and the LTA will be completely abolished from April 2024.
As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. A pension may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. If you are unsure if a pension is right for you, please seek financial advice. Please note that during any transfer, your investments will be out of the market.