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4 tips to turbo charge a pension this tax year

The tax year runs from the 6 April each year to the following 5 April. In that time there are lots of tax allowances and perks to make the most of – pensions offer some of the best.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

5 April should be a key date in everyone’s financial calendar, especially if you want to make the most of pension tax perks. Here are four top tips to turbocharge a pension and potentially make a huge difference to your retirement.

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, ask for financial advice. You can’t usually access money in a pension until at least age 55 (rising to 57 in 2028). Pension and tax rules can change, and benefits depend on your circumstances.

1. Check your employer contributions

If you have a workplace pension, your employer will be making regular contributions into your pension. One potential quick win is to find out the maximum your employer will pay in and make sure you’re making the most of that opportunity.

While lots of employers only pay the minimum, as set out under auto-enrolment rules (pension contributions equal to 3% of your qualifying earnings), others are willing to pay more. Your employer could be too.

Some companies offer employer matching – this is where they’ll match your contributions up to a certain level. It’s always worth asking your employer what this level is. If they aren’t already paying in the maximum, you could consider increasing your payments to make them increase what they pay too. Over time this could give your pension a significant boost, for at least the time you work there.

2. Use up your annual pension allowance (if you can afford to)

Most people have an annual pension allowance of £40,000 gross each year. This limit applies to any contributions made by you and your employer into all the pensions you have. If you’ve maxed out any employer contribution opportunities, you could look at making a one-off payment to a private pension (like our Self-Invested Personal Pension).

Paying in £40,000 a year into pensions is a tall order for many people, but you might find it becomes possible if you get any windfalls, inheritance or bonuses. Making such a contribution – even as a one-off – can have a significant impact on your retirement fund. And if left invested for several years, could leave you with a much larger pension than you otherwise would have. Last year over 3,700 HL clients managed to make contributions totalling exactly £40,000, with the freedom to invest how and where they want.

Remember, investments can fall as well as rise in value so you could get back less than you invest.

More on pension contributions

How much can I pay into a pension and receive tax relief?

To qualify for tax relief, most people can pay in up to the amount they earn each tax year (subject to the annual allowance, which is £40,000 for most people). Let’s say you earned £35,000 a year, you could pay in £28,000 and the government would top this up with £7,000 in basic-rate tax relief, making a total contribution of £35,000.

Tax relief calculator

Switch your money on - act by 5 April

Make the most of your pension allowance this tax year.

You can set up monthly payments from as little as £25 or make one-off payments of £100 or more by debit card.

Add money to your SIPP

Switch your money on - act by 5 April

Open and add money to an HL Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) by 5 April to make the most of your pension allowance this tax year.

Set up monthly payments from as little as £25, or make one-off payments of £100 or more.

More about the HL SIPP

3. Carry forward unused allowance from past years

The carry forward rule is a lesser-known strategy for boosting a pension before the end of the tax year. This is where you can use unused allowances from previous years to make an enhanced contribution to your pension without triggering a tax charge.

If you haven’t used any of your annual pension allowance for the last three tax years and you had a pension scheme (regardless if you paid into it or not), you could contribute up to £160,000 and still get tax relief. Again, it could be worth considering if you’ve received any windfalls recently or are a high earner. You should have earnings of at least the total amount you are contributing this tax year, or your employer could contribute. Just make sure you’re not affected by the tapered annual allowance.

More on carry forward

4. Boost a spouse or child’s pension

If you’ve already maxed out your contributions, or you’d like to help a loved one save for the future, you can boost someone else’s pension too.

For instance, if your partner has no earnings, you can contribute up to £2,880 to their pension every tax year, and they’ll still get up to £720 in basic rate tax relief. You can also do this for children by opening a Junior pension like our Junior Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP).

If your partner or child is earning, you can pay in up to their earnings (subject to the annual allowance, which is £40,000 for most people) and they’ll receive tax relief.

A parent or guardian can open a Junior SIPP for their child from as young as birth, then anyone can pay into it. If you want to pay into a spouse’s pension, they must open an account in their name first.

More about the HL Junior Self-Invested Personal Pension

More about the HL Self-Invested Personal Pension

Tax year ends 11:59pm 5 April

For more tax planning strategies and tips, visit our hub.

More tax year tips for high earners

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    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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