Your pension when you turn 75 | All you need to know
Turning 75 is often considered to be a milestone.
Some people think of it as the last “big” birthday before becoming a centenarian.
But it can also be an administrative milestone when it comes to your finances – and for your pension, specifically.
For pensions, the significance of this date decreased in many ways a few years ago when legislative reforms meant you no longer had to buy an annuity on your 75th birthday if you hadn’t already started to take your pension benefits.
But there are still some things you should be aware of as you approach the big day.
- Pension rule changes after age 75
- Do I have to buy an annuity when I turn 75?
- Will I have to pay a lifetime allowance penalty?
- Making additional contributions
- What are pension providers’ rules?
So, how do pension rules change after age 75?
One of the biggest changes to happen to your pension when you turn 75 is the impact on the death benefits you leave your loved ones.
As a general rule, if you die before you turn 75, any pension death benefits you leave are free from income tax. However, once you turn 75, the recipients of these death benefits will pay income tax at their marginal rate.
(And any lump sum paid to a trust on death after your 75th birthday will have 45% tax deducted, meaning only 55% of the lump sum will be available for investment in the trust.)
Initially, it might seem appealing to withdraw a cash lump-sum earlier so it’s no longer part of your pension, and simply part of your estate. But this might not be the best option as it might lead to other unintended tax implications. This is because if you withdraw the money from your pension and invest it elsewhere – or spend it and boost your estate in other material ways – and you’re over the inheritance-tax threshold, it’ll be hit by a 40% tax on your death.
On top of all this, although you are legally allowed to withdraw a lump of tax-free cash from your pension after you turn 75, not all schemes will necessarily allow you to do this. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late to find that out.
The option that results in the lowest tax liability for you (or your loved ones) might not be immediately obvious, so it’s always wise to take financial advice before you make any decisions.
Do I have to buy an annuity when I turn 75?
Under the law, no you don’t. But, although the legislation around pensions has been modernised over the past decade, that doesn’t mean that all pension providers have updated their products.
So if your pension hasn’t incorporated the latest flexibilities into its rules, you might find yourself having to buy an annuity (ie, a monthly income for life) when you hit 75.
It’s important to take steps before then to understand how your own pension works, as it might be the case that moving it somewhere else before your 75th birthday could increase your options. This is where it’s important to understand all your options and take advice if you are unsure.
Read more: How do pensions work?
Will I have to pay a lifetime allowance penalty?
Up until 5th April 2024 there is a limit on the amount of pension benefit that can be drawn from pension schemes – whether lump sums or retirement income. This Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is tested each time you access a pension benefit, with a final test carried out at age 75 (against both your drawn and undrawn benefits).
Up until 5th April 2023, if the value of all of your pension benefits, across all schemes, exceeded the LTA, any excess would have attracted a tax charge of 25% if it was withdrawn as an income (for example from an annuity or a drawdown arrangement) or 55% if it was withdrawn as a cash lump sum.
The March 2023 Budget confirmed that the LTA excess tax charge would not be applied in the 2023/24 tax year, and the LTA itself will be abolished on 5th April 2024.
Making additional contributions
You get tax relief on contributions you make into your pension – but this relief applies only until you turn 75. If you want to make any top-up payments it’s sensible to consider making them before your 75th birthday, although bear in mind that if you are not earning your annual contributions are limited to £3,600 gross.
What are pension providers’ rules?
Although legislation in recent years means that pension obligations have been relaxed, that doesn’t mean that the rules surrounding your own pension have been updated.
If the terms that were in place when you started your pension haven’t been updated, it might mean you’re still bound by the rules you signed up for many years ago (such as with tax-free lumps sums as already mentioned).
You should check the small print to make sure that your pension provider lets you enjoy the full flexibility of the current legislative framework. If you’re unsure, consider taking independent financial advice.
An independent financial adviser can help you identify anything you need to take care of as you approach your 75th birthday, as well as help you plan your retirement income.
At Alan Boswell Financial Planners we take the time to talk you through any decisions that need to be made and outline your options based on your personal circumstances. For further information on pension advice and your retirement, contact our independent financial advisers on 01603 967967.
Please note, the value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up and you might not get back the original amount invested. The past is not a guide to the future.
The value of tax benefits depends on your individual circumstances and the laws concerning these can change.