Pensions tax regime—beginners’ guide
Produced in partnership with Wyn Derbyshire of gunnercooke LLP

The following Pensions practice note produced in partnership with Wyn Derbyshire of gunnercooke LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Pensions tax regime—beginners’ guide
  • A-Day
  • Lifetime allowance
  • Fixed, individual and other protections
  • Primary protection
  • Enhanced protection
  • Fixed protection 2012 (FP 2012)
  • Fixed protection 2014 (FP 2014)
  • Individual protection 2014
  • Fixed protection 2016 (FP 2016)
  • More...

Pensions tax regime—beginners’ guide

This guide is primarily aimed at trainees, newly qualified lawyers and other persons who are new to or unfamiliar with pensions law.


The registered pension scheme regime was introduced on A-Day (6 April 2006). Under that regime, pension schemes (regardless of their type) are either registered or not registered.

Schemes that were in receipt of ‘tax approval’ prior to A-Day under the various ‘approval systems’ then in force were automatically converted into registered pension schemes on A-Day (unless they opted-out). Other schemes have since A-Day been able to apply for registered pension scheme status under section 153 of the Finance Act 2004 (FA 2004) provided they satisfy the requirements of that regime.

In order to enjoy the various tax advantages of the registered pension scheme regime, it is not sufficient for an individual simply to be a member of a registered pension scheme. There are a number of conditions to satisfy:

  1. it is necessary for the value of a member’s accrued pensions savings (under all of his or her registered pension schemes) to be less than a specified limit known as the lifetime allowance. For further information, see Lifetime allowance, below

  2. while there is in principle no limit as to the contributions that can be paid to a registered defined contribution (DC) pension scheme (or schemes) by or on behalf of a member, and

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