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HMRC pensions website advice blunder

HMRC has been forced to temporarily remove an online calculator which gave incorrect information about annual pension allowances, following complaints from Royal London

The insurer spotted the errors at the beginning of the week (16 April) and alerted HMRC that its official webpage was giving misleading details about pension contributions for higher earners.

Under current rules, for most taxpayers pension contributions of up to £40,000 per year qualify for tax relief. However, since 2016/17, higher earners have faced a reduced allowance, which can be as low as £10,000, although there is the option to ‘carry forward’ unused annual allowances from up to three years earlier.

Royal London said its research suggested the HMRC website was getting this calculation wrong in some cases for both 2017/18 and 2018/19.  It said one customer using the site was told that he was limited to £10,000 in pension contributions for 2018/19 when the correct figure was around £35,000.

The webpage has now been taken down, and HMRC is working to update the annual allowance calculator.

A spokesman for HMRC said: ‘To make sure customers get the right results from the calculator in future, we have temporarily removed access to the calculator until we have updated it.

‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this.’

Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and former pensions minister, said ‘it is beyond belief’ that HMRC was ‘knowingly allowing taxpayers to get incorrect information from their website and potentially to make major financial decisions on the strength of dodgy data’.

HMRC’s website page for calculating an annual allowance charge is currently showing as service not available.

Accountancy Daily

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