Use relief at source to reclaim tax relief given to your pension scheme members

Relief at source is a way of giving tax relief on contributions a member makes to their pension scheme.

How relief at source works

A member making a contribution to their pension scheme will get tax relief at the relevant basic rate. The amount paid to the scheme is treated as having had an amount equivalent to basic rate tax deducted.

The scheme administrator claims the basic rate tax relief from HMRC and adds it to the pension pot. This applies whether or not the member pays tax.

For example if the relevant basic rate was 20%, and a member wants to make a £100 contribution they’ll only need to pay £80 into their pension scheme. The scheme administrator reclaims £20 from HMRC and puts this into the scheme making up the pension contribution to £100.

Use the correct residency status of your members for relief at source

As part of your interim and annual repayments claims for relief at source, you must tell HMRC:

  • the numbers of UK and Scottish rate taxpayers
  • as separate amounts, how much you’re reclaiming for UK and Scottish rate taxpayers

For your scheme members who are Scottish taxpayers liable to income tax at no more than the Scottish starter rate of 19%, or who pay no tax, you’ll continue to claim relief at 20% for these individuals. HMRC will not recover the difference between the Scottish starter and Scottish basic rates and you must not give relief at 19% to these members.

Your scheme members who are Scottish taxpayers liable to income tax at the Scottish intermediate rate of 21%, can claim the additional 1% relief due on some or all of their contributions above the 20% tax relief paid to you. You must not give relief at 21% to these members. Instead, a member will do this by contacting HMRC if they do not already complete Self Assessment returns, or through their return if they do.

Check the residency status of your members

Taxpayers who are above the basic rate of Income Tax

If the member is a Scottish intermediate rate taxpayer, or a higher rate taxpayer in Scotland or the UK, they can claim any extra tax relief due through their tax return or by contacting HMRC.

If the member is an additional rate UK taxpayer, or Scottish top rate taxpayer, they’ll have to claim the extra relief through their tax return.

Members information required by the pension scheme

Before you can claim back basic rate tax relief on a member’s contributions you’ll need the following information about the member:

  • full name and address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number - or a statement that they do not have one (this information is not needed if the member is under 16 or a non-UK citizen who is not living in the UK)

You also needs details about the member’s employment status. The member will make declarations including one to tell their pension scheme if they make a contribution that does not qualify for tax relief.

Pension schemes normally collect all the required information and member declarations as part of the application form to join the scheme.

How to claim tax relief

You need to register to claim tax relief. You can do this by completing form APSS 103. You’ll also need to send in:

  • a completed form APSS 103A for those authorised to make repayment claims
  • a copy of the board’s resolution (or equivalent) appointing each authorised signatory
  • a bank statement or original paying-in slip for the relevant bank account

You should tell HMRC about any changes to your repayment details by completing a further form APSS 103. If you’re changing who can make repayment claims you should also send a further form APSS 103A.

End of year claim

Once registered to claim tax relief claims for relief on member contributions paid during tax year can be made yearly using form APSS 106. Claims for relief must be made within six years of the end of the relevant tax year.

Interim claim

If you do not want to wait a year to make a claim you can make an interim claim using form APSS105. These claims can cover a maximum of 3 tax months (running from the 6th day of a month to the following 5th) but all the months have to fall in the same tax year.

If you’re making interim claims you still complete an annual claim. Interim claims for the period 6 September to 5 October and any following months will not be paid until HMRC has the annual claim for the previous tax year.

If HMRC gets the claim by the last working day of the month and is satisfied with the claim it will normally be paid on the 21st of the following month or the next working day.

Claimed too much relief at source

If you’ve claimed too much relief at source, you’ll need to tell HMRC and pay back the amount you’ve been overpaid.

Information reports

Every year you must complete form APSS107 ‘registered pension schemes: annual statistical return’. This must be sent to HMRC by 5 June following the end of the relevant tax year.

You must send HMRC a report of all member contributions paid in the previous tax year. This annual information return can be provided either electronically or on paper - but it must be in a set format. Guidance and specifications for making annual information returns is covered under separate guidance. These must be sent electronically and from April 2019 they must be sent through HMRC’s Secure Data Exchange Service (known as ‘SDES’).

Interim claims for the period 6 July to 5 August and any following months will not be paid until HMRC has the annual information return for the previous tax year.

Published 16 September 2014
Last updated 4 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Removed reference and link to online service under the heading 'How to claim tax relief'. You'll now need to use form APSS 103 to register to claim tax relief.
  2. Clarification added that pension scheme administrators need to tell HMRC about how many repayment claims are for Scottish rate and rest of UK rate taxpayers, and the amounts for each.
  3. Information has been added to take account of the different rates of income tax for Scottish taxpayers and how this will affect claims for relief at source.
  4. A new section has been added with a link to the new guide for pension scheme administrators who've claimed too much relief at source.
  5. Information has been added on how to check whether a member is to be treated as resident in Scotland or in the rest of the UK for relief at source.
  6. Links added for Scottish and rest of UK higher and additional taxpayer rates.
  7. Registered pension scheme administrators and pension providers will have to make changes to their IT systems for Scottish taxpayers before April 2018.
  8. Any adjustments needed for Scottish taxpayers will be made by HMRC through Self Assessment or through PAYE coding.
  9. First published.