Pension Savings Statement and Pension Taxation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to Pension Taxation.

Will I receive a Pension Savings statement?

Civil Service Pensions will issue a Pension Savings Statement to all members who have breached the standard Annual Allowance limit which is currently £40,000 in relation to any Northern Ireland Civil Service Pension Scheme savings.

When will I receive my Pension Savings statement?

We will be issuing statements to members by 30 September, ahead of the regulatory deadline of 6 October 2019. 

How many Pension Savings statements will I get? 

The number of statements you have received is dependent on your scheme membership:

  • if you are a member of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (Northern Ireland), [PCSPS(NI)], (classic, classic plus, premium or nuvos), then you will have received a single PCSPS(NI) statement
  • if you are a member of alpha and have never been a member of the PCSPS(NI) then you will have received a single alpha statement
  • if you have been a member of the PCSPS(NI) and have moved into alpha then you will have received a separate Pension Savings Statement for the PCSPS(NI) and alpha. Even if you have not exceeded the Annual Allowance in either scheme individually, we check to see if you have breached the limit in both schemes combined and issue a Pension Savings Statement for each scheme separately.

What should I do to find out more about information in my Pension Savings Statement?

The Pensions Savings Statement Guide provides information about you Pension Savings Statement. It can be found on the dedicated Pension Savings Statement page on our website. 

I have received a Pension Savings Statement. What do I do now?

You will need to calculate whether you have an Annual Allowance tax charge to pay.

  • information about how to calculate, declare and pay a tax charge can be found at: Tax on your private pension/annual allowance 
  • you will need to review your Northern Ireland Civil Service Pension Savings Statement(s) alongside any statement(s) you may have received from any other pension providers
  • contributions to the Northern Ireland Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contribution Scheme (NICSAVCS) and benefits in the partnership pension scheme are not included in your Pension Savings Statement. You will need to ask your chosen provider(s) for a statement of these benefits. This is so that you can take account of your Pension Input Amount within your NICSAVCS, alongside your Northern Ireland Civil Service Defined Benefit Pension Input Amount when calculating if you have a tax charge to pay
  • tax is your individual responsibility and we cannot complete or assist you with any tax liability calculations. We recommend that you seek an independent financial adviser if you are concerned about how tax may affect your pension benefits. If you have any queries about your tax charge, please contact your tax office

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website has tips on finding a local adviser at: Finding an adviser

What period does this Pension Savings statement cover?

The growth in your pension savings is compared against the Annual Allowance, usually over the period of a year. This period is called a Pension Input Period. The Pension Input period is 6 April to 5 April in any tax year.

What is Annual Allowance?

The Annual Allowance is set by HM Revenue & Customs and is the maximum amount of pension savings you can make in any one year that benefits from tax relief. If the growth in your pension savings in any one year is more than the Annual Allowance, you may be liable to pay tax on the amount that is over the allowance.

The Annual Allowance is currently £40,000. Individuals can top up their allowance for the current tax year (6 April to 5 April) with any allowance they didn’t use from the previous 3 tax years to mitigate a potential tax charge.

If you have any other pension savings outside of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) pension schemes, these also contribute to using up your Annual Allowance.

More information can be found on the gov.uk website.

What is tapered Annual Allowance and does this affect my benefits?

HMRC introduced a change in the 2016/17 tax year to reduce the Annual Allowance of higher earners. This is referred to as the tapered Annual Allowance.

Tapered Annual Allowance can significantly reduce an individual's Annual Allowance for the higher earners.

If you are affected by the tapered Annual Allowance, you will need to calculate your reduced Annual Allowance yourself.

It is important to note that Pension Savings Statements are issued to members who breach the Annual Allowance of £40,000. If you are affected by tapered Annual Allowance you may wish to request a Pension Savings Statement to assess whether or not your Tapered Annual Allowance has been breached.

What factors can lead to a breach in the allowance?

Here are some examples of factors that can contribute to a breach in the allowance:

  • if you earn a relatively high salary
  • if you’ve had a significant increase in pensionable pay
  • if you’ve bought a lot of Added Pension
  • if you’ve combined (aggregated) two separate periods of membership in the NICS pensions arrangements
  • if you’ve had a club transfer into the NICS pension schemes. See the Public Sector Transfer Club leaflet for more information on club transfers.

How do you work out the growth in pension savings?

The growth of your pension savings is not equal to the contributions that you and/or you employer have made.

The growth of your pension savings within a Pension Input Period in each of the defined benefit schemes you are a member of the NICS pension schemes (which includes classic, premium, classic plus and nuvos sections of the PCSPS(NI); and the alpha pension scheme) is calculated as follows:

Step 1

CSP determines the benefits you had built up at the end of the previous Pension Input Period and multiply this by a factor defined by HMRC (currently 16).

Step 2

Any automatic lump sum that you may be eligible for is added to the amount calculated in Step 1.

Step 3

CSP adjust the total amount in line with inflation. This is the value at the start of the Pension Input Period. See below for the inflation amount used.

Step 4

CSP determines the benefits you had built up at the end of the current Pension Input Period and multiply it by the same factor as used in Step 1.

Step 5

CSP adds any automatic lump sum that you may be eligible for to the amount calculated in Step 4.

Step 6

CSP deducts the value in Step 3 from the value in Step 5. This is your Pension Input Amount.

CSP follows these steps for each of the schemes (PCSPS(NI) and/or alpha) which you have benefits in. The Pension Input Amount is compared against the Annual Allowance to determine if you have breached in any given Pension Input Period.

Any contributions you and your employer have paid into other defined contribution pension arrangements (eg NICS Additional Voluntary Contribution Schemes, the partnership pension account, a stakeholder or personal pension outside the NICS pension schemes) are not included on a Pension Savings Statement from Civil Service Pensions (CSP).

What inflation adjustment is used?

The inflation measure that is normally used to adjust the value of your pension savings is the change in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) over the year to September before the start of the tax year.

What do I have to do now?

You need to establish whether you have a tax charge to pay.

Even if your pension savings for the year are over the Annual Allowance, you still may not have to pay a tax charge, if, for example, you didn’t use up your full Annual Allowance in the previous three Pension Input Periods.

You can use any unused Annual Allowance from the three years prior to the current tax year to offset against any taxable amount. This is called 'Carry Forward' and more information on this is available on the HMRC website.

To determine if you have any unused Carry Forward allowance available from previous years, you must take into account all other pension savings you might have outside of the NICS pension schemes. CSP includes information on the calculated Pension Input Amounts for your NICS pension for previous Pension Input Periods on your Pension Savings Statement.

Your Pension Savings Statement only provided information about your NICS pension schemes benefit, including any Added Pension or Added Years that you may have bought, any transferred in benefits and any aggregated service.

It doesn’t include any NICS AVCs, Partnership scheme benefits or any other pension arrangements you may have. You will need to contact the provider of any such schemes to get the information you need.

What information are the calculations based on?

The figures on your Pension Savings Statement have been calculated using the pension data provided by your employer. It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure the data held by CSP is correct and up to date.

If you think the data held by CSP may be wrong, please put your concerns in writing to CSP by email or post, before declaring any tax charge to HM Revenue & Customs. CSP can then check your data and provide a revised statement if necessary.

How do I calculate whether I have any tax to pay?

Tax is your individual responsibility. Information on how to calculate whether there is any tax to pay is available on the HMRC website, including an online calculator.

If you are liable to pay an Annual Allowance tax charge, you should follow HMRC guidelines for calculating, declaring and paying any tax due.

I have calculated that I have a tax charge to pay - what do I need to do?

If you have a tax charge to pay and have already filed a Self-Assessment tax return, you must amend it. Refer to the HMRC website on how to do this.

If you have a tax charge to pay and have not yet filed your Self-Assessment tax return, you must include it.

If you have a tax charge and have not completed a Self-Assessment tax return before, you must register for self-assessment and declare your tax charge by completing the tax return.

If you have a tax charge to pay, you can pay it directly to HM Revenue & Customs using their self-service facility. You should note the deadlines for payment. Information on Self-Assessment is available on the HMRC website.

Alternatively, if your tax charge is greater than £2,000, you can request that the scheme pay the tax charge on your behalf in exchange for a permanent reduction in your pension benefits. This is called 'Scheme Pays'.

What is Scheme Pays?

If you exceed the Annual Allowance and a tax charge is due, you can ask the pension scheme to pay the charge on your behalf in exchange for a reduction in your benefits.

There are two types of Scheme Pays: Mandatory and Voluntary.

Mandatory Scheme Pays can be used if:

Mandatory Scheme Pays can be used if all three of these apply to you:

  • your Pension Input Amount within a single Northern Ireland Civil Service Pension Scheme is in excess of £40,000, and
  • the tax charge resulting from the excess within that scheme is over £2,000, and
  • your Scheme Pays deduction is applied to the benefits within that scheme only

Members with a tapered (reduced) Annual Allowance must have a Pension Input Amount in excess of £40,000 in one particular scheme (for example alpha or classic) to use Mandatory Scheme Pays.

For members with current benefits in both PCSPS(NI) and alpha, if your Pension Input Amount in each scheme exceeds £40,000 then you may be able to use Mandatory Scheme Pays to pay the tax charge for one scheme; the remaining scheme would be paid on a voluntary basis. This facility would not be available for those with tapered Annual Allowance wishing to use Scheme Pays for their entire tax charge.

Voluntary Scheme Pays can be used if:

  • you do not meet the Mandatory Scheme Pays criteria but you still wish to pay your tax charge by Scheme Pays

I am using Scheme Pays and my Self-Assessment form asks for the scheme's PSTR. What is this?

The Pension Scheme Tax Reference (PSTR) is different for each scheme. If you are using Scheme Pays for both schemes, then you will need to inform HMRC of both PSTRs.

  • for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (Northern Ireland), it is 00329686RF
  • for the alpha pension scheme, it is 00820865RA

How do I tell HMRC I have used Scheme Pays?

You should complete the relevant sections on the self-assessment tax return, in the Pension Savings Tax Charges and taxable lump sums from overseas pension schemes section.

If you don’t complete these boxes on your Self-Assessment tax return, HM Revenue & Customs will not know that you have used Scheme Pays.

How do I update my personal information which is displayed on the statement?

Please contact HRConnect/Employer who will update your pension record.

If I ask you to update the figures in my pension record, will I receive an updated Pension Savings Statement?

Yes, we will work with you (and if necessary your employer) to ensure that your Pension Savings Statement is as accurate as possible and produce a revised statement as quickly as possible.

I have not received my 2019 Pension Savings Statement but expected to receive one; can I request one now?

Pension Savings Statements will be issued by 6 October 2019. If you have not received one by that date please contact Civil Service Pensions.

Where can I find more information?

For more details on Annual Allowance, Scheme Pays, calculating and paying tax charges, a calculator and Frequently Asked Questions, please see the HM Revenue & Customs website:

Who do I contact if I have a question about my Pension Savings Statement?

If you have any questions which are not answered in these Frequently Asked Questions please contact Johnny Butler at: 

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