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Webb slams HMRC for pension tax calculator blunder

Former pensions minister Steve Webb has urged HM Revenue and Customs to take down a web page which gives users the wrong information about how much money they can put into pensions.

Royal London spotted the blunders on the website and raised the issue with HMRC on Monday 16 April but the information remained in place at the time of writing.

Under current rules, for most taxpayers pension contributions of up to £40,000 per year qualify for tax relief.

But since 2016/17, higher earners have faced a reduced allowance which can fall to as little as £10,000 per year for those on the highest incomes, though taxpayers are able to ‘carry forward’ unused annual allowances from up to three years earlier.

However the HMRC website is getting this calculation wrong in some cases for both 2017/18 and 2018/19.

This could lead to individuals wrongly believing that they should stop saving into a pension because they have exceeded their annual limit.

One Royal London customer who used the site was told that he was limited to £10,000 in pension contributions for 2018/19 when the correct figure was around £35,000.

While HMRC has admitted in writing that the site is giving incorrect figures it continues to be in use and contains no warning that the figures may be wrong.

Webb is calling for more urgent action and says: “It is totally unacceptable for an official government website to continue to operate when it contains blunders of this sort.

“Now that HMRC knows that there is a problem they should take down the site immediately.

“It is beyond belief that they are knowingly allowing taxpayers to get incorrect information from their website and potentially to make major financial decisions on the strength of dodgy data.

“In the past it has taken months to fix issues like this – how many more people have to be misled before HMRC takes action?”

HMRC’s response to Royal London says: “We are aware that since 6 April 2018 the annual allowance calculator is showing less annual allowance than is due for the year 2017/18 onwards, and we apologise to customers for this.  We’re working to fix this issue as soon as possible.”


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  1. Andy Robertson-Fox 18th April 2018 at 9:36 am

    Webb may be correct in his claim about an HMRC error there are over 500,000 pensioners who recall his errors and discredited excuses when Minister of Pensions for perpetuating the discrimination against them in not index linking their State Retirement Pension….simply because of where they live.
    If he was a quick to apologise for that as he is to criticise the HMRC perhaps he might have some credibility.

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