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Are you missing out on free pension money?

Higher-rate taxpayers are failing to pay into pensions and missing out on money from the government in the form of pensions tax relief.


by Michelle McGagh on Aug 17, 2012 at 00:01

Are you missing out on free pension money?

Higher-rate taxpayers are missing out on £438 million a year as one in four fails to contribute to a pension and take advantage of pensions tax relief.

A total of 216,000 employees do not contribute to pension schemes, which means they cannot claim pensions tax relief.

Everyone who contributes to a pension is entitled to tax-relief on contributions – 40% in the case of higher-rate taxpayers.

How the tax relief works

This is essentially free money from the government to encourage you to save. The tax relief you receive doesn’t go back into your pocket, but is added to your pension pot, giving a boost to your contributions.

According to the Prudential, higher-rate taxpayers miss out on £438 million a year in free money by failing to pay into a pension. An average higher-rate taxpayer contributing £425 a month into a pension fund receives basic tax relief of 20%, or £85 a month, directly into their pension. They can also claim a further 20% from the government, another £85 per month or £170 in all a month in extra contributions.

Despite this incentive, and the average higher-rate salary topping £58,541, people are still failing to save.

A survey of those earning between £42,275 and £149,999 revealed 21% do not contribute because they feel they cannot afford to. Another 13% said they do not see the point of saving for retirement, and 17% don’t know why they don’t save.

Matthew Stephens, Prudential tax expert, said: 'Pension saving offers valuable tax reliefs to all workers and particularly to higher-rate taxpayers. Basic rate 20% tax relief is available at source plus up to an extra 20% from HM Revenue & Customs for higher-rate taxpayers. Turning down what is effectively free money simply does not make sense.

‘It is worrying that so many higher-rate taxpayers say they cannot afford to save into a pension despite earning healthy salaries. The good news is that it is never too late to take action on saving for retirement.’

To find out more about pensions and pensions tax relief, check out these guides from The Lolly:

5 comments so far. Why not have your say?

andrew via mobile

Aug 17, 2012 at 11:42

Silly article, there is no such thing as free money. tax is differredin return for locking your money up until retirement when it is taxed as income (plus 25% tax free lump sum - subject to political interference!)

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Aug 17, 2012 at 12:06

The 21% are in for a shock when Auto-Enrolment hits them, likewise the 17% who seemingly can't effectively manage their finances. How would these folk manage on the £8k minimum criteria for Auto-Enrolment?

51% of those surveyed aren't saving for their retirement in one form or another. Well they shouldn't expect those on lower incomes to bail them out when they are hard-up pensioners.

Financial education remains non-existant, or passed them by

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Tony Peterson

Aug 17, 2012 at 14:03

There is no such thing as "free money" as Andrew points out. It is a lying deception promoted by our systemically corrupt (and stupid) financial services industry as epitomised by "Lolly".

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Annoyed via mobile

Aug 17, 2012 at 22:37

21% of people earning over £40k can't afford to contribute. What hope does auto enrolment have for those on lower salaries?? Lots of people opting out I think !!!

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Aug 18, 2012 at 13:08

If I took my £25% tax-free lump sum and flexible Drawdown on my SIPP, but didn't actually take any income because I was still earning, could I and my employer continue paying into my SIPP?

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