The importance of understanding tax-free pension withdrawals

The importance of understanding tax-free pension withdrawals - July 2023

Similarly, 52% of those surveyed between the ages of 50 and 54 were also unaware of this rule, indicating a widespread lack of understanding about pension withdrawal options.

Maximising your tax-free pension withdrawal
The study found that among the 57% of over-55s who know about the tax-free pension withdrawal option, 21% have already taken advantage of this benefit, while 9% plan to do so in the future.

Most individuals who plan to take their tax-free lump sum did or will do so at retirement (69%). However, 16% have made or intend to withdraw at different points during retirement.

Understanding the various options available
The study emphasises the importance of understanding the various options available when withdrawing from your pension pot, including the 25% tax-free cash entitlement.

Considering factors such as whether to take the lump sum all at once or split withdrawals into smaller chunks over time and the potential implications and benefits of each approach are essential.

Important questions regarding tax-free pension withdrawals

How much can you withdraw tax-free?
Typically, most people can withdraw 25% of their total pension pot tax-free, although this may vary depending on the type of pension plan and if you’ve exceeded your lifetime allowance. The remaining 75% is subject to Income Tax.

When can you access your tax-free lump sum?
Generally, you can access your pension savings, including the tax-free lump sum, at age 55 (rising to 57 in 2028). In rare cases, you may be able to access your pension earlier due to ill health or a protected scheme.

Can you take the lump sum in smaller amounts?
This depends on your pension product and its terms. Taking smaller withdrawals over time can be beneficial in most cases, as it allows for potential growth and tax-efficiency.

Should you take the lump sum immediately?
It’s essential to consider the longevity of your pension savings throughout retirement. Taking too much too soon could result in running out of funds later in life. Delaying access to your savings may allow for additional growth.

Are there any implications to be aware of?
Accessing your pension savings can impact state benefits, such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit. Additionally, taking a tax-free lump sum won’t affect the amount you can contribute to your pension plan, but accessing taxable income may reduce your annual allowance.

Source data:
[1] Opinium conducted research among 2000 UK adults aged 18+ between 12th and 16th May 2023 for Standard Life

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