Please remember, SIPPs are aimed at people happy to make their own investment decisions. Investment value can go up or down and you could get back less than you invest. You can normally only access the money from age 55 (57 from 2028). We recommend seeking advice from a suitably qualified financial advisor before making any decisions. Pension and tax rules depend on your circumstances and may change in future.
How does SIPP tax relief work?
SIPP tax relief is essentially a government contribution to your pension. It is designed to encourage saving for the future.
The government pays at least 20% of the total amount you invest in your SIPP.
For example, if you pay £800 into your SIPP, the government will top it up to £1,000. They pay 20% of the £1,000 total – a £200 contribution.
Essentially, every 80p you pay in is topped up to £1.
How much tax relief will I get?
The amount of SIPP tax relief you can receive depends on your income tax band.
Your provider will always claim 20% tax relief for you as standard.
Higher-rate or Additional-rate taxpayers can claim back an extra 20% or 25% through their self-assessment tax returns.
This table shows the total cost of contributing £1,250 to a SIPP at different rates of tax relief:
Tax relief rates
Tax relief effectively means that the government returns some of the income tax you have paid as a pension contribution.
Tax relief rates are:
- 20% for basic-rate taxpayers
- 40% for higher-rate taxpayers (anyone earning over £50,270 annually)
- 45% for additional-rate taxpayers (anyone earning over £150,000)
Income tax in Scotland is banded differently.
Scottish income tax rates are:
- 20% for basic-rate taxpayers
- 21% for intermediate-rate taxpayers
- 41% for higher-rate taxpayers
- 46% for additional-rate taxpayers
If you are a Scottish taxpayer, your provider will still claim the first 20% automatically, but you will need to claim the remaining 1%, 21% or 26%.
What if I have no earnings?
If you are a non-taxpayer – e.g. if you are unemployed - you can still qualify for tax relief on annual contributions up to £3,600.
This is equivalent to a personal contribution of £2,880 and tax relief of £720 (20%).
SIPP annual allowance
You can invest up to 100% of your earnings in a SIPP each tax year (capped at £40,000).
Because of tax relief, this actually means you can contribute up to £32,000 of your own money, and receive up to £8,000 in tax relief.
If you have an income of £200,000 or more, you may be subject to a tapered annual allowance.
Your annual allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 that your ‘adjusted income’ exceeds £240,000.
If your adjusted income reaches £312,000, you will be subject to the maximum £36,000 reduction in annual allowance. That means your annual allowance would be reduced to £4,000.
Carry forward rule
If you have not used your full allowance in any of the previous three years, you may be able to carry over some of your SIPP annual allowance.
This is called the ‘carry forward’ rule.
To be eligible, you must have:
- been a member of a pension scheme in each tax year from which you carry forward.
- used up your full annual allowance in the current tax year.
- contributed less than £40,000 in one or more of the last three tax years. (including personal and employer contributions.)
- earned at least the amount you are contributing in that tax year, if you are making personal contributions.
Tax relief after starting income drawdown
Once you have started to drawdown income from your SIPP, your annual contribution allowance reduces to £4,000. This is called the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA). Because of tax relief, this actually means you can contribute up to £3,200 of your own money and receive up to £800 in tax relief.
This means you will not receive tax relief on annual contributions over £4,000.
The MPAA will not be triggered if you have only taken your tax-free lump sum from your SIPP, it is only triggered once income payments commence.
Tax relief FAQs
The ii SIPP is aimed at clients who have sufficient knowledge and experience of investing to make their own investment decisions and want to actively manage their investments. A SIPP is not suitable for every investor. Other types of pensions may be more appropriate. The value of investments made within a SIPP can fall as well as rise and you may end up with a fund at retirement that’s worth less than you invested. You can normally only access the money from age 55 (age 57 from 2028). Prior to making any decision about the suitability of a SIPP, or transferring any existing pension plan(s) into a SIPP we recommend that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified financial adviser. Please note the tax treatment of these products depends on the individual circumstances of each customer and may be subject to change in future.