James Hay 

Taper allowance problem 'blown out of proportion'

Taper allowance problem 'blown out of proportion'

The complexity of the tapered annual allowance is being felt by many, however the number of people affected is minimal, according to James Hay.

Speaking at James Hay’s retirement wealth symposium yesterday (June 12), Ian Linden, technical manager of pensions at James Hay, said that although calculating the tapered annual allowance was "extremely complicated" the amount of people actually affected by it was minimal in comparison to other allowances.

Mr Linden said an individual who is affected by the tapered annual allowance could potentially have 10,000 to 30,000 different outcomes in one year.

This is because to calculate whether someone is affected by the tapered annual allowance, adjusted income has to be taken into account which changes over the course of a year.

Introduced in 2016, the tapered annual allowance means that for every £2 of adjusted income above £150,000 a year, £1 of annual allowance will be lost.

When asked how many people in the room had clients affected by the tapered annual allowance, out of a room of 200 financial advisers, almost everyone raised their hands, highlighting an ongoing issue.

However, when Mr Linden asked how many of the advisers had clients who were doctors only a handful put their hand up.

He went on the say the number of people affected by the tapered annual allowance had been "blown out of proportion".

Mr Linden said: "In 2016 only 16,500 individuals told HM Revenue & Customs that they had an annual allowance charge to pay due to the tapered annual allowance.

"In reality this allowance is only affecting a small number of people and the furore and publicity that the British Medical Association has created around this issue has been blown out of proportion."

But Mr Linden acknowledged the tapered annual allowance was an "incredibly complicated piece of legislation which was ill-thought out by government".

He said: "Trying to get your head around how it works is very difficult. I have had instances where I have been on the phone for 40 minutes trying to explain to financial advisers just how it works."

The tapered annual allowance has been seen as a problem more recently due to a high number of doctors cutting their hours and choosing to not contribute to the NHS pension scheme to avoid high tax charges.

It emerged in December that the number of members leaving the NHS Pension Scheme was five times higher than that seen by other public pension funds.

The tapered annual allowance gradually reduces the allowance for those on high incomes, meaning they are more likely to suffer an annual tax charge on contributions and a lifetime allowance tax charge on their benefits.

However, Mr Linden said that if parliament caved in to pressure and introduced legislation to change the tapered annual allowance for doctors then all other public sector workers would want the same treatment.

He said this would create an even larger gap between DB and DC pension schemes than there is currently.