An explanation of the money purchase annual allowance

This article explains what the money purchase annual allowance is, what triggers it and the impact on defined benefit schemes.
Key facts
  • The money purchase annual allowance is currently £4,000.
  • Prior to 6 April 2017 it was £10,000.
  • What are the main triggers for the money purchase annual allowance:
    - taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum
    - taking flexi-access drawdown income
    - taking more than maximum Government Actuary's Department income from a capped drawdown plan
  • The money purchase annual allowance does not apply to defined benefit accrual.
  • Case study

PTM056500: money purchase annual allowance

On 6 April 2017 the money purchase annual allowance reduced from £10,000 to £4,000. However, this only became law on 16 November 2017 when the Finance Act (No.2) 2017 received Royal Assent.

Anyone taking income from a flexi-access drawdown plan or using an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum will trigger the money purchase annual allowance of £4,000.

For those who are lucky enough to have a final salary scheme the full £40,000 annual allowance may still apply. Remember individuals with high earnings may be caught by the tapered annual allowance and have an annual allowance below £40,000.

What triggers the money purchase annual allowance?

Mainly the two events mentioned above.

But an individual in capped drawdown who either chooses to convert to flexi-access drawdown or breaches their existing Government Actuary's Department income limits will also trigger it. 

ActionTrigger
Take pension commencement lump sum only - no income from flexi-access drawdown  cross  
Take pension commencement lump sum only and income from flexi-access drawdown tick  
Take uncrystallised funds pension lump sum tick  
Remain in capped drawdown cross  
Exceed Government Actuary's Department limit in capped drawdown tick  
Take annuity cross1
Take "small pot" cross  

1If the amount of annuity can reduce or it is a short term annuity in a capped drawdown plan that's over the Government Actuary's Department limit, the money purchase annual allowance will be triggered.  Any other type of annuity won't trigger the money purchase annual allowance.

When does it apply?

The money purchase annual allowance applies to all defined contribution savings made by that individual after the date it's triggered. If this occurs part-way through a pension input period only the contributions made after the trigger are tested against the money purchase annual allowance. However the total contributions/accrual in that tax year are also tested against the £40,000 annual allowance or tapered annual allowance.

For the avoidance of doubt, this includes contributions made to any other defined contribution plans the individual has in addition to the one they've taken benefits from.

What about DB?

Accrual under defined benefits schemes is not tested against the money purchase annual allowance, but will be included in the test of total contributions against the annual allowance/tapered annual allowance:

Case study 1

A client enters flexi-access drawdown and takes income. He then contributes £3,500 to his defined contribution arrangement, while defined benefit accrual is £32,000.  The tapered annual allowance does not apply.

mpaa graph

  • As the defined contribution contributions do not exceed the money purchase annual allowance no annual allowance tax charge is due, and as total contributions do not exceed £40,000 no annual allowance tax charge is due.

An alternative annual allowance of £36,000 applies to the defined benefit savings, but is only required where the annual allowance is breached.

What about carry forward?

It's not possible to carry forward unused tax relief against the money purchase annual allowance. Defined contribution contributions must be limited to £4,000 to avoid an annual allowance tax charge.

It is however possible to carry forward unused relief against the full annual allowance if it still applies:

Case study 2 - one year later

The client in the example above makes defined contribution contributions of £4,000 and his defined benefit accrual is now worth £38,000.

mpaa graph

  • His total contributions exceed the annual allowance of £40,000 however he has £4,500 unused relief available to carry forward from the previous year. Defined contribution contributions must still be within the money purchase annual allowance..

If defined contribution contributions exceed the money purchase annual allowance a tax charge will be due.

The default chargeable amount is the excess over the annual allowance. However there is also a second test for the alternative chargeable amount to ensure the excess defined contribution contributions are not simply offset against defined benefit savings. This is the excess over the money purchase annual allowance added to the excess over the alternative annual allowance of £36,000.  The taxable amount is the higher of the two calculations:

Case study 3

Another member of the scheme enters flexi-access drawdown and takes income. He then contributes £6,000 to his defined benefit arrangement, while DB accrual is £35,000.

mpaa graph

  • The taxable amount is the higher of the alternative chargeable amount (£2,000 + £0) and the default chargeable amount (£1,000).

Further information

PTM056500: Annual allowance: money purchase annual allowance

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.

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