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HMRC tightens rules to tackle pension scams

HMRC is tightening regulations for pension scheme adminstrators from April this year as part of its clampdown on pension scams.

Since September, the tax office has been able to de-register pension schemes if the administrator is not deemed to be a “fit and proper” person.

Now HMRC says administrators will have to provide extra information and make online declarations. The information required when a scheme changes its structure or range of number of members will also be updated to make it harder for people to set up schemes to faciliate pension liberation.

A HMRC note says: “Scheme administrators themselves will be required to provide HMRC with additional information and declarations online and may be asked to produce further information and documentation as a result.

“This builds in additional safeguards to ensure that people running pension schemes together with the people who offer them advice are doing so wholly and mainly for the purpose of making authoried payments of pensions and lump sums in line with the pension tax rules.”

Talbot and Muir head of technical support Claire Trott says: “The additional questions that are likely to be asked by HMRC of scheme administrators when registering schemes can only be a positive, even if it creates an initial delay in the registration process.

“The current stance that a scheme administrator is “fit and proper” until HMRC find out otherwise leaves a gap in the process where a scheme could be registered and receiving tax relievable contributions well before any wrong doing is uncovered. I hope this will mean those trying to set up a scheme for the purposes of liberation will be found out at an earlier stage.”

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