Emergency tax and lump sum withdrawals

An explanation of when emergency rate tax applies and confirmation of the process for reclaiming overpaid tax following lump sum withdrawal from a pension plan.
Key facts
  • Unless a pension provider holds an up-to-date tax code, lump sum withdrawals from a pension plan will be subject to income tax under the emergency rate basis.
  • This will result in an overpayment of tax for the majority individuals making their first withdrawal from their pension.
  • The overpaid tax may be reclaimed during the tax year using one of the new HMRC forms specifically designed for this purpose.
  • The taxation bands are different in Scotland to the rest of the UK.

Pension Schemes Newsletter 68 confirmed that unless a pension provider holds an up-to-date tax code, most lump sum withdrawals from a pension plan will be subject to income tax under the emergency rate basis. Triviality payments and winding up lump sums are taxed at basic rate.

  • This will result in an overpayment of tax for the majority of individuals making their first withdrawal from their pension.
  • The overpaid tax may be reclaimed during the tax year using one of the new HMRC forms specifically designed for this purpose.

Emergency rate income tax

When does it apply?

The newsletter confirmed that providers must apply a temporary income tax code, called emergency rate, to any lump sum withdrawals from a pension plan unless:

  • The member is able to provide a P45 from the current tax year following their withdrawal from employment and/or their current pension plan, or
  • The pension provider already holds a P45 or up to date cumulative tax code received from HMRC as the result of previous withdrawals from that pension plan, and can apply it.

This means that it is likely that the majority of initial withdrawals are likely to be subject to emergency rate tax. It’s worth noting that this is how PAYE operates and is not as a result of the pension freedoms.

How does it work?

Under the emergency tax code the amount being withdrawn is treated as if it will continue to be paid each month. Although in many cases it will actually be a one-off payment – known as the 'Month 1' basis.

The provider will therefore apply 1/12th of the personal allowance (£12,500 in 2019/20) to the payment, and will assess the remaining payment against 1/12th of each of the income tax bands currently in force.

Emergency rate tax is calculated on the UK tax rate 

Example: Fund value £50,000 – £12,500 tax-free and £37,500 taxable:

 Annual Tax BandMonth 1Tax rateTax due
Personal allowance Up to £12,500 £1,041.67 0% 0
The remaining income (i.e. £37,500 - £1041.67 = £36,458.33) is then taxed at:
Basic rate band £37,500 £3,125 20% £625.00
Higher rate band £37,500 - 
£150,000
£9,375.00 40% £3,750.00
Additional rate Over £150,000 £23,958.33 45% £10,781.25
  Total tax due £15,156.25
  Total taxable £37,500.00
  Net amount £22,343.75
    Plus PCLS £12,500.00
    Net paid £34,843.75


Since most people will not in fact receive this payment every month in the majority of cases this treatment will result in an overpayment of tax. The exception would be where the client receives income in excess of the additional rate tax threshold from another source(s). In this circumstance the personal allowance will not apply as the personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 earned over £100,000.

Getting the tax back

Under PAYE where income tax has been overpaid it will normally be recovered through an adjustment to the tax code for future income payments.

In the case of a pension, HMRC will issue a revised tax code for the provider to apply to future payments.

However, where an individual is taking their pension fund as a lump sum, it is possible that they may not have any ongoing income against which the additional tax can be offset. In this case the individual has 2 options:

  1. They can wait until the end of the tax year. A tax refund will be created as a result of the information submitted in their tax return OR
  2. They can reclaim the overpaid tax from HMRC during the tax year using the appropriate claim form. For an individual where the overpayment is substantial this is likely to be the preferred route.

Tax repayment forms

There are 3 forms available for reclaiming overpaid tax as the result of a lump sum pension payment.

Advisers can guide them towards the correct form by asking 3 basic questions:

  1. Has the individual encashed the full value of their pension fund or only some of it?
  2. Does the individual have other source of income during the tax year in question?
  3. Is the individual intending to make further withdrawals from the pension plan in question?

Tax repayment forms

You will note from this that individuals who intend to make further lump sum withdrawals and/or take income in the current tax year are expected to wait until HMRC issue the revised tax code. This is why there is no form which covers this situation.

The forms are accessible and should be completed online, there is no facility to print off and fill in a paper-based version.

Further information

You can find links to all HMRC Newsletters on our website.

Note

The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.

Share

Share

Last updated: 05 Apr 2019

This website is intended for financial advisers only and shouldn't be relied upon by any other person. If you are not an adviser please visit royallondon.com.

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.