Taxation and your retirement income

What tax could you pay on your retirement income, and what could the impact be on the money you have available?

Pete Matthew explores the main issues in the video below:


Is my retirement income taxed?

Probably, yes. Most people will pay tax on the income they receive – though there are a few exceptions. So the decisions you make about how and when you do draw on that money, will impact the amount of tax you pay. There are three main options - we look briefly at how tax may affect each one.


Income that you receive from annuities is taxed in the same way it would be if you were earning the money through a job – under the PAYE system. You can read more about different rates of tax and how much you have to pay for each band under 'What rate of tax will I pay?'

Income drawdown

Again, you'll pay tax under the PAYE system on any income drawdown that you take. But as you can control how much income you take each year, you do have the flexibility to manage the tax you pay.

Tax-free lump sum

You can take the first 25% of your pension savings as a tax-free lump sum, but most people have to pay tax on any payments that they take after this. There are some pension schemes that offer exceptions to this rule, but they are rare and most people will only be able to take 25% tax free.

Any ad hoc payments that you withdraw from your pension after the tax-free lump sum are treated as earned income, and taxed at your highest marginal rate. So, for example, if you had £50,000 in total in your pension, and withdrew all of it, you would have £12,500 tax free, and £37,500 would be taxable.

Take this example a step further - assume you have a salary of £20,000 - the £37,500 is added to this for tax purposes, which means you would be treated as earning £57,500 in the current tax year, which would push you into the 40% tax band.

So while it's appealing to take all of your pension savings in one go, you will pay tax at your marginal rate on the total amount (after any that's tax free) – which could be a significant amount.

If you are interested in finding out how much income tax you would need to pay if you took your whole pot in one go, our Pension Taxation Calculator could help. You can even print out your results afterwards if you wish - which may be helpful if you want to refer back to the illustrated figures later on. 

What about my State Pension, is that taxed?

Yes – but it's not taxed at source. This means you'll receive the 'gross' amount and then pay the tax back (if you owe any), through the PAYE system that's being used to recoup tax from private pensions or earnings you're still receiving. If you're not receiving other income, then you'll have to complete a self-assessment form once a year.

What about other income?

If you receive income from any other sources – such as from continuing to work, or receiving rental income, you will need to pay income tax at your highest marginal rate. 

And is there any income I definitely won’t pay tax on?

The rules may change in the future, but at the moment you won’t pay additional tax on these types of income in retirement:

  • Pension Credit
  • Winter Fuel Payments
  • Attendance Allowance/ Personal Allowance
  • War pensions
  • Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
  • Some National Savings and Investments products

What rate of tax will I pay?

The amount of tax you have to pay on any income you receive during your retirement depends on two factors:

1. the level of Personal Allowance that you receive from the Government (the amount of money that you can receive before you have to pay tax), and

2. how much income you receive.

The Government will write to you to let you know what your personal tax allowance is. Usually this will happen before the start of each new tax year on 6 April.

Any income that you receive over this amount will be taxed depending on how much you earn. There are currently four tax bands which can be explained using the table below:


Income band Allowance Rate of tax to pay for 2016/17
Tax-free Personal Allowance Up to £11,000 0% (tax free)
Basic rate  £11,000 - £43,000 20%
Higher rate  £43,001 - £150,000 40%
Additional rate Over £150,000 45%


Are there any exceptions to this? 

Yes. If you are blind you may also be given a Blind Person's Allowance. Also, if you are married, or in a civil partnership you may be entitled to transfer up to £1,100 of your Personal Allowance to your partner under the Marriage Allowance. To qualify you will need to earn less than them though, and your income must be less than £11,000 per year. Your Personal Allowance will also be less than the amount quoted above if your annual income is over £100,000.

You can read more about your Personal Allowance and the different tax bands on the website here.

Who do I pay the tax to?

If you live in the UK you will pay your income tax to the UK Government who use the money to fund their spending across the UK. However, if you live in Scotland then from 6 April 2016, some of your income tax will be paid to the Scottish Parliament. For the current tax year the Scottish Parliament have chosen to set their income bands to be the same as those in the rest of the UK, but this could change in future budgets.

You can find out more about these changes here.

What else should I think about?

It’s a good idea to just remember when you’re setting retirement goals or budgeting for the future, that you're likely to pay tax on your income. A drop in the figures you’re using is likely to have an impact on the plans you’re trying to make. 

If you would like to explore your personal situation in my detail, the best thing to do is to speak a qualified professional. You can search for a local financial adviser at or