Could the UK government take up to 60% of your pension?
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published a paper on 15th December 2022 recommending that the UK government introduce a basic rate (20%) income tax charge and Inheritance Tax (IHT) at 40% on monies left in UK pensions on death, regardless of age.
How much could the UK tax my pension?
By Portugal team
This article is published on: 6th February 2023
Could the UK government take up to 60% of your pension?
Generosity of current rules
Under current rules, your pension can pass to your beneficiaries free of UK Inheritance Tax (IHT), rather than being subject to the standard 40% rate. Additionally, if you die before age 75, your beneficiaries do not need to pay any tax on drawdown/lump sums. If you die after 75, and your beneficiaries are UK tax resident, they are subject to income tax at their marginal rate.
This is what makes pensions so valuable for tax planning and advisers will usually recommend that they are maximised and preserved, and that other assets subject to IHT are used to fund spending first, to reduce the value of your estate.
What could change?
The IFS pointed out that the current tax rules on UK pensions are very generous and pensions have become a succession planning tool rather than one for retirement provision.
Experts are musing that the UK government could change these generous IHT rules; many say this is overdue. More worryingly, they are anticipating a potential change in 2023.
The IFS recommended that a basic 20% rate is applied to any pension savings left on death, irrespective of age. Also, the pension should form part of the deceased’s estate for IHT, incurring a further 40% tax.
Why the change?
Simply put, changing the pension IHT rules would fill a big hole in the Exchequer’s coffers by bringing millions of pensions into the IHT net. It would also persuade many people to start spending their pension pots and in turn, pay income tax on the drawdown during their lifetimes.
The report explained how the generous UK pension rules specifically in relation to IHT have caused a “bizarre situation” where instead of pensions primarily being an attractive structure for old-age-planning, they have become a lucrative IHT loophole. The IFS also pointed out, “if we are to have an inheritance tax at all, it should apply evenly across all forms of wealth.”
We have also seen pensions being periodically targeted over the past decades, with taxation and limits applied in the form of Annual Allowance, Money Purchase Annual Allowance and the continuing reduction of the Lifetime Allowance, from £1.8.m in 2011/2012 to £1,073,100 in the tax year 2022/2023 – all with the aim of curbing the tax benefits. There are even serious talks of bringing the increase in the UK State Pension age forward from 2046 to 2035.
Will this affect you?
Those with estates valued in excess of £325,000 (if single) or £650,000 (jointly), including pension values, would be affected by any potential change.
It is unclear how any potential change would be introduced, although the IFS has suggested phasing in changes. It is also unclear if existing benefits would be sheltered from the change or if the rules would be retrospective, thus catching all pension savers. Although, the IFS did say that even with phasing, there would be some retrospective taxation effect.
What should you do?
Of course, there is no guarantee this will happen, but if changes are imposed there may be little or no opportunity to restructure your pensions. As a non-UK resident, you can take action now and review your finances to ensure you are protected.
Spanish Tax on Personal Pensions
By John Hayward
This article is published on: 1st June 2022
Further to the recent article written by my colleague Charles Hutchinson regarding temporary annuities and their taxation of annuities in Spain, I am expanding on the tax treatment of personal pensions generally.
Depending on the type of retirement income that you are receiving, it will either be taxed as regular income, “work” income as the Spanish call it, or savings (passive) income with a different set of tax rates being applying to each type. It is generally understood that the income from pension plans that received tax relief (effectively where the contributions were deducted from income before tax was calculated) will be treated as work income.
The word “annuity” is used in a general sense in the UK as the regular payment which comes from a pension scheme. It is possible to convert a personal pension fund to an annuity, with a view to guaranteeing a fixed income for life albeit waiving the right to the capital value of the pension pot. Whether or not it is advisable to purchase an annuity is another matter. This will depend on personal circumstances.
As far as Spain is concerned, an annuity is a form of income that attracts favourable tax treatment. An annuity in Spain is either temporary or for the whole of life. The annuity is purchased. It is not income drawn from an existing pension fund unless that fund is encashed to buy the annuity. At that point though there is the possibility of a large tax bill on the encashment.
The key points here are that:
- Not all pension income is treated the same way for tax
- Declaring work income as an annuity is not correct and, if reported intentionally in this manner, it is possible that it will be treated as fraud. The Spanish tax office is making a special effort right now to check on this. They can go back at least 4 years with their investigations
- Care should be taken when accessing retirement income to make certain that, not only is it being declared in a lawful way, but also that you do not leave yourself open to a nasty and unexpected tax bill
Contact me today for more information on how we can help you to protect your assets from unnecessary taxation and make more from your money, protecting your income streams against inflation and low interest rates, to talk about Spanish Tax on Personal Pensions or for any other financial and tax planning information contact me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (+34) 618 204 731 (WhatsApp).