The annual allowance charge and Scheme Pays requests

Paul Squirrell takes a step-by-step approach to calculating client’s annual allowance charges.

The essential principle of the annual allowance is to limit the amount of ‘tax privileged’ pension savings an individual can accrue each tax year. If exceeded, a client may have to pay an annual allowance tax charge. The amount depends on the excess amount, how much the client has earned in the tax year and whether they have any unused allowances they can carry forward to reduce or potentially eliminate the charge. 

Broadly speaking, the charge is calculated by notionally adding the excess amount to the client’s taxable income for the year and is charged at their marginal rate (or rates if an income tax threshold is crossed). If a charge is due, then the next step is deciding how to pay it.

1. Direct payment to HMRC

In some circumstances, the client may have to pay the charge directly to HMRC, typically through self-assessment.

2. Scheme Pays

It may be possible for the client to pay some or all of the charge from their pension account. This is often a more palatable option and may also offer a pecuniary tax advantage (particularly if the lifetime allowance is a consideration). There are two types of Scheme Pays and, depending on the amount, how the charge arose and their circumstances, a client may have access to one, both or neither of them.

Mandatory Scheme Pays

If certain conditions are met, the pension scheme must fulfil requests to pay the charge from the pension and it will become jointly and severally liable with the client for some or all of the tax charge. However, this option is only available in limited circumstances:

  • When the persons’ total annual charge is over £2,000* and;
  • The client has exceeded the standard annual allowance of £40,000  in the pension scheme the charge is to be paid from (for this purpose the tapered annual allowance and money purchase annual allowance are ignored).

* There is no minimum that the client can ask the scheme to pay but if this is less than £2,000 then they will need to confirm to the scheme that their total annual allowance tax charge liability is greater than £2,000. It will also only cover any charge on the excess over £40,000.

It doesn’t apply when:

  • The client has exceeded the tapered annual allowance and/or the MPAA, but hasn’t exceeded the £40,000 standard annual allowance or;
  • They have an overall charge of less than £2,000.

It partially applies when:

The client has exceeded the tapered annual allowance or the MPAA and the £40,000 standard annual allowance. In this situation, the scheme will only cover any charge on the excess over £40,000.

Voluntary Scheme Pays

Any pension scheme can offer Voluntary Scheme Payments but, unlike FundsNetwork, many do not. Where this facility is offered, there are no minimums and the scheme can pay any annual allowance tax charge, even if it isn’t in relation to that arrangement. However, the scheme will never become jointly and severally liable for the charge. As such, the reporting and payment deadlines for Voluntary Payments are different to Mandatory Payments.


Deadlines for Scheme Pays requests must be adhered to. If they are missed, then the option may not be available. The deadlines for FundsNetwork Pension Scheme Pays requests are shown below:

FundsNetwork Scheme Pays deadlines
Scheme type Deadline
Mandatory Scheme Pays You must submit a request by 31 July in the year after the tax year when the charge became due. So, if you exceed the standard annual allowance in the 2019/20 tax year, you have until 31 July 2021 for the transaction to be completed. 
Voluntary Scheme Pays You must submit a request by 31 August in the same year when the charge becomes due. So, if you exceed an annual allowance in the 2019/20 tax year, you have until 31 August 2020 to get in touch with us. This will allow us to take the money out of your pension and pay the charge (within the periods that pension schemes must abide to) before the deadline for self-assessment.

The annual allowance charge – Scheme Pays

Paul Squirrell, our National Pensions Sales Manager, provides a step-by-step approach to calculating client's annual allowance charges, including two case studies.

Download now



Important information

This article provides information and is only intended to provide an overview of the current law in this area and does not constitute financial advice, tax advice or legal advice, or provide any recommendations.

This article represents a summary of our understanding of the law at the date of its last review (April 2019). Tax limits, benefits, allowances and rules are often subject to change and may change in future. Advisers and individuals should check that tax limits, allowances and rules have not changed. The value of benefits depends on individual circumstances. Withdrawals from a pension will not normally be possible until age 55.

Different options may have different effects for tax purposes, different implications for pension provision and different impacts on other assets and financial planning.

Issued by Financial Administration Services Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FundsNetwork™ and its logo are trademarks of FIL Limited. UKM0520/31311/SSO/0321