Pension Basics

How much should I be paying into my pension?

The amount you should be paying into your pension depends entirely on your own circumstances. If you’re unaware of some of the tax benefits you get with having a workplace or personal pension then read our handy guide below.

Tax benefits

For both workplace and personal pensions, when you pay into your pension you get tax relief on the amount you pay in – think of it as a gift from the government!

The tax relief is set at the highest rate of income tax you pay. If you’re paying the basic rate of tax (20%) in England, you get 20% tax relief. If you want to contribute £100 from your salary it will only cost you £80; the government will add £20 – the tax it would have otherwise taken.

You can find more information on the different limits and exceptions that apply to tax relief on the GOV UK Tax on private pensions page.

Contributions from your employer

As part of auto-enrolment in workplace pensions, you and your employer must make minimum contributions to your pension. These minimum contributions are based on your earnings and are currently set at 3% for your employer and 5% for you.

What if I don’t have an employer?

If you’re self-employed and pay into a pension you won’t get employer contributions (because you’re your own boss), but you’ll still get the tax benefits from the government. Your pension provider usually claims the 20% tax benefit and adds this to your pot. If you’re a higher rate tax payer, you can claim back the additional tax relief due to you through your self-assessment tax return.

Research by pension provider Royal London estimates that, assuming lower living costs in retirement (e.g. hopefully you won’t still be paying for a mortgage), you need an income of £17,500 a year to live comfortably. To get an income of £17,500, you need a final pension pot of £260k to get a retirement income of £9,000 a year to combine with the full state pension of £8,500. Our retirement calculator, available through the Moneybox app, can help you visualise this.

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