Income tax treatment of pensions on death

Produced by Tolley

The following Trusts and Inheritance Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Income tax treatment of pensions on death
  • Income tax principles for pensions on death
  • Type of pension
  • Type of payment
  • Age of the deceased at date of death
  • Recipient of the benefit
  • Pension payments taxable on deceased
  • Arrears of pension
  • Pension payments taxable on estate
  • Guaranteed payments
  • More...

When a member of a pension scheme dies, he may be in receipt of pension income, or he may have future rights to a pension which have not yet crystallised. In either situation, some rights may be transferred to beneficiaries or the personal representatives.

The Administration of pension rights on death guidance note describes the death benefits or payments that arise from different types of pension, and how to deal with them in the course of administering the estate. This guidance note covers the income tax treatment of death benefits and payments. Where applicable, the compliance procedure is explained. The Inheritance tax treatment of pensions on death guidance note provides the corresponding explanation for inheritance tax.

The structure of legislation relating to the taxation of pensions is complex. The core legislation for the taxation of registered pension schemes is found in FA 2004, Part 4. Almost every Finance Act since 2004 has made some amendment to that core legislation. Where the pensions legislation requires income tax to be charged on an individual, it refers to provisions in ITEPA 2003, Part 9. Major changes were introduced by:

  1. Taxation of Pensions Act 2014

  2. Finance Act 2015

  3. Finance (No 2) Act 2015

The changes to the taxation of death benefits introduced in the above statutes were effected by amending the relevant provisions in FA 2004 and ITEPA 2003.

This guidance note describes the rules that apply with effect from 6 April 2015.

Income tax principles for pensions on death

The income tax treatment of post death pension rights is determined by:

  1. type of pension

  2. type of payment

  3. age of the deceased at date of death

  4. the recipient of the benefit

Type of pension

Pension rights may arise from the state pension (SP), a defined benefit (DB) scheme, or a defined contribution (DC) scheme, and the tax treatment may differ according to the origin. The Administration of pension rights on death guidance note provides information on each type of pension.

A defined contribution (money purchase)

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