'Chancellor's simple changes could make a significant difference'

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'Chancellor's simple changes could make a significant difference'
(REUTERS:Hannah McKay)

When I started the day saying to someone that there is always a surprise on Budget day, I was not expecting something so fundamental to my day-to-day life as the abolition of the lifetime allowance.

As with all these things, the devil is in the detail, but this is generally a welcome move and will mean that many people who would have been impacted by charges will now not have them applied.

However, the lifetime allowance isn’t being abolished until 2024, although any LTA charges will not be levied after the end of this tax year.

The timing of this is mainly to do with legislation but it does mean that not all those who have imminent tax charges will be spared.

There seems to be nothing stopping those that hit 75 in the next few weeks from being hit with a charge, or even those that may unfortunately pass away in that time. Given we haven’t seen the legislation, there is still scope for these anomalies to be corrected. 

To take account of the abolition of the lifetime allowance and not give complete free reign on tax free cash, a limit equal to 25 per cent of the current lifetime allowance, £268,275, will be imposed.

This shouldn’t impact those with previous lifetime allowance protections, although full details of this are yet to be seen, especially with regards to phased or partial crystallisations.

It is quite surprising that the tapered annual allowance hasn’t been done away with alongside the other changes announced today.

Capping tax free cash in this way makes sense because opening all funds up to 25 per cent could see a significant drop in the amount people take that is taxed.

The increase in the Money Purchase Annual Allowance to £10,000 from £4,000 is a positive step, although retaining the MPAA in some form still causes confusion and won’t have the same impact that it could have had if it was scrapped.

This is clearly part of the drive to get those who have taken benefits back into work, but it may not be seen as going far enough to bring back the highly skilled and therefore highly paid people we need in some industries.

Annual allowance

The £40,000 annual allowance and available carry forward has been sufficient for many over recent years, and the greatest impact of the annual allowance is seen in defined benefit schemes where the amount deemed to be saved can’t be controlled to the same extent as in defined contribution schemes.

In defined benefit schemes, inflation and salary increases can play a large part in the amount set against this allowance.