Tag Archives: income

Chris Jones, Financial Planning Week tip: Pensions tax relief where clients have dividend or investment income

A reminder of how higher rate tax relief is applied and how, in some cases, the total tax relief can be more than 40%

Tax relief on personal pension contributions is limited to a maximum of 100% of the individual’s relevant UK earnings in the tax year the contributions are paid (and a minimum of £3,600). Essentially, this means the money the client has earned from their employment or the taxable profits from their self-employment.

Key investment income sources such as rental profits (other than those from qualifying furnished holiday lets), dividend income or savings income are excluded. However, this doesn’t mean that higher rate tax relief is not available on these types of income. This is because of the way in which the tax relief is applied.

With a relief at source scheme, the contribution is paid net and the provider will add the basic rate tax relief and reclaim this from HMRC. The individual’s basic rate tax band is then extended by the gross value of the pension contribution. This means the income that would otherwise fall into the higher rate tax band may now fall into the basic rate tax band. It doesn’t matter what form of income that is, i.e. the tax relief can be obtained against earned income, rental profits, savings income or dividend income. Where it is the latter, the rate of tax relief is higher than 40%.


A client has £12,000 of earnings and also receives £60,000 of dividend income. The maximum tax relievable personal contribution they could make is limited to £12,000 in the tax year. They pay the pension provider £9,600 net and the provider adds the £2,400 of tax relief.

The client’s basic rate tax band is then extended by £12,000 from £37,700 to £49,700. This means that £12,000 more of the dividend income is now taxed at the basic dividend rate of 8.75%, rather than the higher rate of 33.75% – a 25% saving or £3,000. This means the total tax relief is 45% (£2,400 + £3,000 = £5,400. £5,400/£12,000 = 45%).

Where individuals make contributions to a net pay scheme, i.e. an occupational scheme, the rate of tax relief is, currently*, exactly the same (aside from the anomaly for those with total taxable income below the personal allowance) as the taxable income is reduced by the gross contribution.

Note that although the dividend tax rates are reducing from tax year 2023/24, the tax saving in this example will still be the same as the rate will reduce down from 32.5% to 7.5%, i.e. 25%. And, although the basic rate of income tax is set to reduce to 19% from 6 April 2023, there will be a one-year transitional period for Relief at Source (RAS) pension schemes to permit them to continue to claim tax relief at 20%. Individuals can only receive higher rate tax relief to the extent they would otherwise have paid higher rate tax if they hadn’t made the pension contribution. For example, someone with taxable income of £60,270 and a full personal allowance, could only benefit from higher rate tax relief on contributions of up to £10,000. Any further contributions would only benefit from basic rate tax relief. (£60,270 – £37,700 basic rate tax band – £12,570 personal allowance = £10,000 in the higher rate tax band.)

It is also important that higher rate tax payers in relief at source schemes ensure they make a claim for the higher rate tax relief they are entitled to either on their self-assessment tax return, or if they do not fill in a self-assessment tax return, they can call or write to HMRC to claim.

*The basic rate of income tax is set to reduce to 19% from 6 April 2023. Where individuals make contributions to a net pay scheme, i.e. an occupational scheme, from 6 April 2023, the rate of basic rate relief they will receive will be at 19%.

HMRC consults on low income trusts and estates

HMRC is consulting on legislative proposals to remove trusts and death estates with small amounts of income from income tax

Back in 2016, following tax on bank and building society interest no longer being deducted at source, HMRC introduced an arrangement to ensure that new burdens did not arise on those managing trusts and estates whose only income consists of small amounts of savings interest. This reflected the fact that following the introduction of the Personal Savings Allowance from the same date, around 95% of savers were expected to be no longer liable for tax on this interest.

However, trustees of trusts and personal representatives (PRs) of death estates do not have tax allowances in the same way as individuals do. As a result, with the payment of interest gross, even the trustees and PRs of the smallest trusts and estates would have become liable to file a self-assessment return when they hadn’t previously had to do so. HMRC’s arrangement therefore removed trustees and PRs from income tax where the only source of income for the trust or estate is savings interest and the tax liability is below £100. This arrangement was intended to be a temporary arrangement pending a longer-term solution.

The new consultation, which runs until 18 July 2022, seeks views on proposals to formalise and extend that concession.

Under the latest proposals, low-income trusts and estates with income from any source up to a ‘de minimis’ amount (to be decided following this consultation) will not be subject to income tax on that income.

For trusts and estates with income more than the de minimis amount, income tax will be due on the full amount of income rather than only applying to the income above the de minimis amount. This is in the interests of simplification for both taxpayers and HMRC, as the rules required to take the alternative approach would be complicated and require additional administration for all involved.

Tax pools apply to discretionary trusts and keep track of income tax the trustees pay. When trustees make a discretionary payment of income it is treated by the beneficiary as if income tax has already been paid at the trust rate (currently 45%); and the trustees must have paid enough income tax (in the current or previous years) to cover this ‘tax credit’. Under these proposals, even where discretionary trusts would be covered by the de minimis rule, they will still have to pay tax when they pay income out to a beneficiary, to ensure that the tax credit remains funded.

HMRC’s impact assessment points out that this measure is expected to have an impact on an estimated 28,000 individuals overall. It is expected to simplify the administration of tax in the majority of cases by avoiding the need for people to claim refunds; but some people are expected to have to return and pay the tax due, where previously that would have been done by the trustees.

We will update you on any developments.


Note that non-taxable trusts are required to register on the TRS. All trusts which are not “excluded trusts” have to be registered by 1 September 2022 or within 90 days from the trust’s creation, whichever is later. Any new registrable trusts set up from 1 September 2022 will have to be registered within 90 days. So, even if a trust does not need to register as a taxable trust, it may still need to be registered as a non-taxable trust (unless it is an excluded trust).