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Scottish income
tax changes

Important information SIPPs are a type of pension for people happy to make their own investment decisions. Investments go down in value as well as up so you could get back less than you invest. Pensions are meant for your retirement, so you normally can’t access your money until any time after your 55th birthday (57 from 2028). Tax rules can change and tax reliefs depend on your circumstances. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, we can put you in touch with one of our advisers.

5 tax bands

Over the last few years, the Scottish government has been given increasingly wide-ranging powers over setting their own income tax rates and bands.

There are five tax bands for Scottish taxpayers (2020/21).

Earnings Tax rate in Scotland
Personal allowance Up to £12,500 Tax free
Starter rate £12,500 - £14,585 19%
Basic rate £14,585 - £25,158 20%
Intermediate rate £25,158 - £43,430 21%
Higher rate £43,430 - £150,000 41%
Additional rate £150,000+ 46%

The rest of the UK only has the personal allowance and three bands (basic rate, higher rate and additional rate).

Who is affected?

Only Scottish income taxpayers are affected.

Broadly, you are a Scottish taxpayer if you are resident in the UK and:

  • You have only one UK residence, which is in Scotland, and you live there for part of the year,
  • You have more than one UK residence, at least one of which is in Scotland, and you live in Scotland for more of the year than you do in any other part of the UK, or
  • You cannot identify your main residence and spend more days in Scotland than in any other part of the UK

Scottish taxpayer status applies for the entire tax year. It’s not possible to be a Scottish taxpayer for only part of it.

Government adds tax relief of 20% for basic-rate taxpayers

Is pension tax relief affected?

The government tops up personal contributions with basic-rate tax relief (currently 20%), instantly boosting the amount of money saved (even if you pay tax at a rate below basic rate). This hasn’t changed.

Scottish taxpayers can claim back up to a further 26% depending on the rate of tax they pay, when they make a personal contribution but this extra amount won’t be added automatically. They will need to complete a tax return or write to their local tax office.

Please remember, you need to pay enough tax at the higher rate to claim back the full amount of tax relief.

How much tax relief could you get?

One last thing…

Remember, to receive tax relief, your personal contributions are limited by the amount you earn that tax year. If you are a non-earner or earn less than £3,600, you can still pay in £2,880 which the government will top up to £3,600. Money held in a pension cannot normally be accessed until age 55 (57 from 2028), up to 25% tax-free and the rest taxed as income.

How much can you contribute to a pension?