Carry forward: our top five frequently asked questions

We look at carry forward in the latest in our series of top five FAQs on pensions technical topics.
Carry forward: case studies

Read our carry forward
case studies

    1. Can an individual use carry forward if they haven’t paid into a pension for a number of years?

      If the individual was a member of a registered pension scheme in the year they want to carry forward from, they’ll be able to use carry forward. The definition of member is very broad and includes an active, deferred, pensioner and pension credit member. 

    2. Can an individual use carry forward after they’ve triggered the money purchase annual allowance (MPAA)?

      It’s not possible to use carry forward to pay contributions to a defined contribution (DC) scheme above the MPAA. When the MPAA has been triggered, tax relievable contributions to DC scheme are limited to £4,000. Contributions above that amount would attract an annual allowance charge. Carry forward’s still available for any defined benefit scheme funding.

    3. How do you calculate any unused annual allowance (AA) for tax year 2015/16?

      Tax year 2015/16 is split into two periods. The pre alignment period runs from 6 April 2015 to 8 July 2015 and covers pension input periods which end between the 2 dates. There could be more than one pension input period ending in the pre alignment period. The post alignment period runs from 9 July 2015 to 5 April 2016. The AA for the pre alignment period is £80,000. The AA for the post alignment period is zero, but any unused AA from the pre alignment period can be used in the post alignment period capped at £40,000. Any unused AA from the post alignment period can be carried forward to later years.

    4. Can an individual use carry forward if the tapered AA applies?

      Carry forward can still be used if the taper applies, you would simply substitute the tapered AA for the standard AA in the calculations. The taper was introduced in tax year 2016/17. 

    5. Do you need to inform the pension provider or HMRC if you’re using carry forward?

      No, although it makes sense to keep records in case HMRC query any contributions in the future.

Want to know more?

You can find more information about carry forward below:


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 by email:

Share by email:

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

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.