Claiming Higher Rate Pension Tax Relief

19 Apr 2015


One of the key benefits of paying into a pension is that any personal contributions you make (up to certain limits) are tax relievable.

If you pay contributions via Salary Exchange/Sacrifice then your full tax relief is provided immediately because your gross contribution is paid straight to your pension without being taxed.

If not, basic rate tax relief is managed by your pension provider, who upon receipt of your net of basic rate contribution will add basic rate tax relief to this, which they then claim back from HMRC. For example, if your gross pension contribution is £100 you pay £80 from you net pay to which the provider adds the balance £20 which it reclaims back from the HMRC.

If however you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer, you need to claim further tax relief,  something that recent research suggests up to 180,000 people fail to do each year.

Ways to claiming Higher Rate Tax relief

You can claim higher or additional rate tax relief in one of two ways:

  1. Via your Self Assessment tax form. The relief will be paid to you either via a rebate, a reduction in your tax liability.  You should state the gross amount (what you’ve physically paid plus the basic rate tax relief added) you’ve contributed on the relevant part of your form. You shouldn’t include any employer contributions.
  2. Via an adjustment to your tax code by writing to your local tax office. Wingate can provide you with a draft letter to which you will simply need to add your personal information.

The letter can be submitted at any time during the tax year and tells HMRC how much you have paid into your pension, enabling you to receive your additional relief immediately.

You will need to complete and submit a new letter every time you alter your pension contributions. If you start paying contributions via a Salary Exchange/Sacrifice arrangement you must inform HMRC to ensure you do not receive too much tax relief and end up owing money to HMRC.

Previous Tax Years

It may still be possible for you to claim higher rate relief on pension contributions made in previous tax years, if you have not yet claimed it. The deadline is four tax years after the end of the tax year in which you are making the claim.

You should write to your tax office advising that you are claiming for higher rate tax relief on personal pension contributions, the amounts paid, the tax years to which they relate and how you would like the tax relief to be refunded.


This information is based on our understanding of current legislation and tax rules which can change at any time. Any tax relief available will depend on your individual circumstances.

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