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NAPF: Pension charges could rise if Scotland tinkers with taxes

The National Association of Pension Funds has warned savers could face higher charges if the Scottish government decides to overhaul its tax regime.

The Scottish public will vote on whether or not to remain part of the UK in a referendum on 18 September 2014.

However, regardless of the outcome of the vote, the Scotland Act 2012 will hand the Scottish Parliament the power to set a Scottish rate of income tax for Scottish taxpayers. The new rule is expected to apply from April 2016.

This could have implications for automatic enrolment, where the earnings trigger is currently set in line with the income tax threshold, and pensions tax relief.

The NAPF has today published a report examining how a “yes” vote could impact UK pensions.

It says: “There is already a power to implement a different tax treatment of Scottish taxpayers, should the Scottish Parliament wish to do so.

“Use of this power will affect pensions savers, as tax thresholds act as a trigger for automatic enrolment into a pension scheme and the amount of pensions tax relief a person is entitled to.

“If the Scottish Parliament set different tax thresholds it is not yet clear what the implications for automatic enrolment and pensions tax relief would be.

“Any complexity in tax regimes is likely to increase significantly administration and operational costs for employers and schemes, and these are likely to be passed onto pension scheme members.”

The NAPF also warns of the potential impact Scottish independence could have on “cross border” defined benefit schemes, which would need to be fully funded under European rules, and a lack of clarity about how Scottish schemes would be regulated.

In March, Money Marketing revealed concerns from insurance companies that a “yes” vote could mean over a million savers paying into pensions run by Scottish insurers would be unable to claim tax-relief. 

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