HMRC tackles pensions tax abuse

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has made a number of changes to strengthen existing processes to tackle the attempted misuse or abuse of the pension tax rules, deter pension liberation and safeguard employees’ pension savings.

The changes, which took effect from 21 October, include:

  • Registering a pension scheme: HMRC has made the pension scheme registration process more robust by moving away from a ‘process now, check later’ approach. Scheme registration will no longer be confirmed on successful submission of the online form. This will enable HMRC to conduct detailed risk-assessment activity before making a decision on whether or not to register a scheme.
  • Transferring pension funds between registered pension schemes: To help scheme administrators decide whether to make a transfer, HMRC has revised the process for responding to requests for confirmation of the registration status of the receiving scheme. Under the new process, HMRC will respond to requests for confirmation of the registration status without seeking consent from the receiving scheme. However, HMRC will only provide confirmation where the receiving scheme is registered and the information held by HMRC does not indicate a significant risk that the scheme was set up, or is being used, to facilitate pension liberation. Otherwise, a response will be issued setting out the conditions in which HMRC will confirm registration status and explain that one or both of the conditions are not satisfied.

A statement from HMRC read: “We are proactively liaising with scheme administrators at an early stage and won’t hesitate to de-register pension schemes where rules are not adhered to.”