Pension contribution opportunities for Partners

Pension contribution opportunities for Partners in professional practices

Chris Maguire, Consultant, Financial Planning
26/11/2021
Pension contribution opportunities for Partners

Despite widespread speculation, there were no significant announcements in the budget on 27 October 2021 in relation to pension contribution rates and allowances. This is welcome news, as personal contributions can continue to benefit from income tax relief at your highest marginal rate, the pension fund grows free of income tax and capital gains tax, 25% tax-free cash is still available and most pension funds sit outside of the estate for inheritance tax purposes.

No-one knows how long the current system will continue, and so it makes sense to enjoy these opportunities while you can.

What this means for new and on-going pension contributions?

The amount that you can contribute to a pension and receive tax relief is known as the annual allowance. For most partners the annual allowance is £40,000. However, for ‘high earners’ the level of income above which your annual allowance starts to reduce remains at £240,000.

If your income is over £240,000, tapering gradually reduces your annual allowance by £1 for every £2 of income, from £40,000 to a minimum of £4,000 (the minimum applies if you have income of £312,000 or more).

What does this mean for Partners making pension contributions?

Partners with income up to £240,000 should consider contributing up to their full annual allowance to take advantage of income tax relief at either 40% or 45%.

Alternatively, if cash flow now permits, and you wish to catch-up on contributions that you may not have been able to make in previous years, you are able to carry forward any unused annual allowance for the three previous tax years, as long as you held a pension plan in those tax years. The current year annual allowance must be fully used first and then carry forward can be used to increase the contribution, provided there is sufficient taxable profits for the contributions to be tax-relievable (contributions are treated as being paid in the tax year in which the payment is made).

Those partners with income above £240,000 and below £312,000 should consider whether they should amend their contributions so as to make full use of their annual allowance.

The annual allowance for Partners with income in excess of £312,000 remains unchanged at £4,000 per annum and, if they have not already done so, may need to reduce or suspend regular contributions to avoid exceeding the annual allowance and incurring a tax charge.

Partners should check what unused annual allowance capacity they have in the previous three years and whether they can utilise it in the current year.

Post COVID-19 impact

What if estimated profit shares are anticipated to be higher post lockdown?

One of the challenges for Partners is that profit shares for the tax year are not usually disclosed until several months after the year end and this creates a challenge in trying to estimate earnings when determining pension contributions.

Where partners are, or may become, ‘high earners’ it is possible to reduce or suspend pension contributions. Most (but not all) pension plans allow this without charge and without penalty. Contributions can be made up later in the tax year, either by increasing monthly contributions or through paying lump sums prior to 5th April 2022. There is the ability to carry forward allowances for up to three prior tax years, and so any increased annual allowance can be utilised in a later year.

Please note that some pension contracts have inbuilt guarantees which are conditional on premiums being paid at the same level until the plan retirement date. Where premiums are reduced or ceased, these guarantees could be lost and you should check with your pension provider or financial adviser prior to cancelling or amending Direct Debit Mandates. Some pension providers may also ask for 10 days’ written notice prior to cancelling or amending a DDM.

Conclusion

Pension contributions remain an extremely tax efficient form of saving for retirement and where possible, Partners should ensure they maximise the amount they save into pensions.

Where income restricts tax-efficient pension contributions to just £4,000, you should consider whether these will enable you to build a fund which can provide you with the income you require in retirement.

Pension legislation and tax reliefs can be complex and careful consideration should be given prior to taking any action.

Our financial planning team can help you work out your annual allowance, any unused carry forward capacity, and then advise on adjusting your contributions accordingly. They can also help you consider other tax efficient savings vehicle which can be used towards your retirement plan.

Contact us
Phil Smithyes
0118 959 7222
Thames Valley
Miles Clarke
0118 959 7222
Thames Valley
Adrian Crowe 
020 7842 7187
London
Richard Dean
01242 234421
Cheltenham
Aron-Gunningham    Aron Gunningham
0118 959 7222
Thames Valley
Julian Hanrahan
01622 767676
Maidstone
Chris Maguire 600x600
0118 959 7222
Thames Valley
Dharmesh-Upadhyaya 
Dharmesh Upadhyaya
020 7842 7325
London
 

Risk warning

Crowe Financial Planning UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) to provide independent financial advice. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Tax Advice.

The information set out above represents our understanding of HM Revenue & Customs practice at 01/06/2020 and is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice to undertake a particular transaction. Appropriate professional advice should be taken on specific issues before any course of action is pursued.  Any advice provided by a Crowe Consultant will follow only after consideration of all aspects of our internal advice guidance. 

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Contact us

Phil Smithyes
Phil Smithyes
Partner, Head of Financial Planning
Thames Valley