Employees who contribute to an occupational pension scheme under a net pay arrangement do not currently benefit from any tax relief if their earnings are below the personal allowance. This anomaly will be rectified from 6 April 2024 when HMRC will start making top-up payments.
A net pay arrangement is where pension contributions are deducted from pay before tax is calculated. The anomaly arises because someone in a similar situation, but making contributions with relief given at source, benefits from 20% relief. The change will mean low earners benefiting from the same tax relief regardless of earnings.
HMRC’s top-up payments will be introduced from tax year 2024/25 onwards, with the top up not paid until after the end of the tax year. The implementation delay is due to the significant HMRC system changes required.
Although top-ups are only estimated to be an average of just over £50 a year, more than a million employees should benefit – the vast majority of them women.
The government’s policy paper explaining the change can be found here.