All contributions paid in the tax year will be assessed against the client’s annual allowance. The ordinary annual allowance for 2018/19 is £40,000 but high income individuals, or those who have accessed their pension benefits, may have an annual allowance that is lower.
When the annual allowance for the tax year is used up, the client can carry forward any unused annual allowance from the three previous tax years, except where the money purchase annual allowance applies.
A tax charge will apply if contributions exceed the total of the client’s available annual allowance, plus any carry forward that can be used.
Where a client is subject to the money purchase annual allowance, £4,000 can be contributed to money purchase pension schemes without annual allowance excess tax charges, but carry forward is not available in respect of the client’s money purchase pension savings.
If the contributions are paid via relief at source, the total of contributions plus tax relief made in the tax year will be limited to the greater of £3,600, or 100% of the client’s relevant UK earnings in the same tax year, even if this is lower than the total of the client’s available annual allowance plus carry forward.
If the requirements are met before the relevant cut-off, then the tax year would be 2018/19, and the three previous tax years would be 2015/16, 2016/17, and 2017/18.