Annual allowance

While there is no limit on the amount you can save into your pension each tax year, there is a limit on the amount of tax relief you can receive on your contributions. This is based on your own contributions, any employer contributions and any contributions made on your behalf by someone else.

The standard annual allowance for the current tax year is £40,000. The annual allowance applies across all your pension savings, not per scheme. If the contributions to your pensions exceed the annual allowance, a tax charge ('the annual allowance charge') may become payable. This effectively claws back any excess tax relief given at source.

If you've already withdrawn taxable income from your pension or have income of more than £110,000 a year, your annual allowance may be reduced. See below for more details on the money purchase annual allowance (MPAA) or read more about the tapered annual allowance (TAA).

The value of investments can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. The eligibility to invest in a pension depends on individual circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to an authorised financial adviser. You will not normally be able to withdraw money from a pension until you are 55.

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Money purchase annual allowance (MPAA)

Once you begin withdrawing taxable income from your pension pot using pension freedoms, you may be subject to the money purchase annual allowance (MPAA). The MPAA reduces your pension contribution allowance from £40,000 to just £4,000 in the tax year 2017/18 and ongoing.

Note: just taking your tax-free cash or using your pot to buy a guaranteed income for life (an annuity) doesn’t count as taxable income for this purpose but taking a lump sum as an Uncrystallised Fund Pension Lump Sum (UFPLS) does.

If your first taxable withdrawal is part way through the tax year, the reduced allowance only applies from this date onwards. Contributions before the first withdrawal would be measured against the standard annual allowance of £40,000. Contributions from that date to the end of the tax year would be measured at the reduced rate. From the beginning of the next tax year, the reduced allowance (£4,000) applies for the whole tax year.

Pension providers are required to notify you when you’ve taken benefits that result in a reduced allowance, so it’s a good idea to check this with them.

Download our guide to the annual allowance

Read our guide to find out how the annual allowance might affect you.