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Are pension rules set to change in the March Budget?

Contractor accountants may be concerned to learn that George Osborne is considering changing tax relief [1] on pension contributions when he delivers the March Budget.

He has various options available to him. If he cut the relief on all contributions to 20%, taxpayers who pay the higher 40% rate would lose £20 for each £100 they invested and those paying the 50% top rate would lose £30 per £100 invested. On top of that, pensions are subject to tax so a taxpayer might have to pay tax at 40% or even 50% on their pension when they retire.

If this happened, a lot of people in defined benefit schemes might have to file a tax return because the pension benefits could not be determined as easily as they can with a defined contribution scheme.

PwC’s head of pensions, Raj Mody, explained that if tax relief on pensions was reduced, those people who pay a higher rate of tax could be better off if they received cash and paid income tax [2] on it at the time.

The Chancellor is also considering reducing the annual allowance of £50,000. PwC says this would be easier to implement and people would still have an incentive to invest money in a pension fund.

Another option would be to reduce the tax-free lump sum people are entitled to on retirement [3]. Those approaching retirement would then pay more tax than they expected on their pension pot.

Mody did warn that there have already been various changes to pensions in recent years and the public may lose trust completely if the Government implements further amendments.

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Image: Deck chairs [4] by echiner1

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