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Pensions and Tax - July 2015



    In his speech, the chancellor revealed plans to review the somewhat complex pension tax regime in a green paper.

    Of course consultation papers on pensions and tax are nothing new, but the surprising aspect was his reference to pensions perhaps becoming more like Isas (individual savings accounts).

    He stated: “While we’ve taken important steps with our new single tier-pension and generous new Isa, I am open to further radical change. Pensions could be taxed like Isas.

    “You pay in from taxed income – and it’s tax free when you take it out. And in-between it receives a top-up from the government. This idea, and others like it, needs careful and public consideration before we take any steps. So I am publishing a green paper that asks questions, invites views, and takes care not to prejudge the answer.”

    While the government may not be “prejudging” the outcome of the consultation, the clear reference to Isas means it certainly has an idea of where it wants to head.

    Tony Stenning, head of UK retail at BlackRock, suggests the consultation provides an opportunity to develop a pensions system that is less complex and incentivises low and average earners to save more.

    “As people take more individual responsibility for their retirements, it’s vital the system is simple and transparent,” he says.

    The focus of the Budget was very much on tax and pensions, with changes to the venture capital trusts (VCTs) structure announced to ensure it complies with European Union state aid rules and the removal of the dividend tax credit to be replaced by a £5,000 tax-free dividend allowance.

    Ian Sayers, chief executive of the Association of Investment Companies, says: “The changes announced affecting pension tax relief for high earners are likely to support increased demand for VCTs as a tax-efficient way to save. They also have tax-free dividends, which is important following changes to taxation of dividends.”

    Meanwhile, the asset management industry also got a mention as the chancellor spoke specifically of changes to the law that “make sure investment fund managers pay the full capital gains tax rate on their carried interest”.

    In another consultation that closes on September 30 the government states that while it recognises the “vital role played by the asset management industry in the UK economy”, everyone in the sector should pay a “fair and correct amount of tax on the rewards they receive”.

    Therefore the consultation is focusing on developing tests that determine when a fund manager can access capital gains tax treatment for any performance-linked reward.

    But how much of an impact will these consultations have on the industry? It is difficult to tell in the short term; the real test will be when the responses have been analysed and the government arrives at some conclusions.

    Nyree Stewart is features editor at Investment Adviser

    In this special report


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