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UK Pension Contributions Window Closes On 31 January

by Carla Johnson, Investors Offshore, London

31 December 2001

UK savers with personal pension schemes have only until 31st January to pay in unused contribution entitlements from previous years: from the next tax year onwards the rollover of unused entitlement from one year to the next will no longer be permitted. Meanwhile, it's possible to go back to the 1994-5 tax year to work out how much you fell short of the contributions you were entitled to make each year, and then the Treasury will add back the tax you previously paid on the money - up to 40% if you are a higher rate taxpayer.

It's estimated that as much as £40bn of permitted contributions were held back by savers, but nothing like this total is expected to flow into pension schemes in January, if only because there is a fair amount of work involved on the part of pension providers, and they're likely to be overwhelmed if only a small fraction of the £40bn is suddenly paid in. To qualify for the handout by 31 January you must show your pension firm evidence of your earnings and pension contributions for the relevant years, obtain and complete Inland Revenue forms PP42, PP43 and, if you are a higher-rate taxpayer, form PP120, and return them with your cheque for the agreed amount.

One catch is that this concession overwhelmingly applies to the self- employed, whose earnings notoriously fluctuate from year to year. Whatever your unused capacity, you cannot pay in more than you earned in 2000-1, so if that was a poor year you are strapped. If you are a member of an occupational pension scheme, you can't as such make use of the concession - but nothing stops you from taking out a separate personal pension scheme, and it will be well worth while if you have the spare cash left after the January sales!

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