Robert O’Hare: Tax issues around auto-enrolment

It does not appear that auto-enrolment will have any direct tax impact, but there could be an indirect tax impact on employees.

For example, the threshold for the maximum amount of annual pension contributions that qualify for tax relief was recently cut to £50,000. If an employee’s annual pension savings already come close to that threshold, then additional contributions made to the company scheme in which that employee is auto-enrolled may not qualify for tax relief.

There is also a threshold for the maximum lifetime pension savings that qualify for tax relief, which has been cut to £1.5 million.

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Employees with pension savings exceeding that threshold were able, at relevant times, to register in advance for protection from the tax impact on the excess. Those employees may lose that protection if they do not opt out of auto-enrolment. Employers should draw this to their attention, but they must do so in a way that does not induce them to opt out of the company scheme.

Robert O’Hare is a tax expert at Lexis PSL