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HMRC internal manual

Pensions Tax Manual

Registration: de-registration: de-registering a pension scheme

Glossary PTM000001


When HMRC may de-register a scheme
Notification of de-registration
Appeal against de-registration 
Tax consequences


Once registered, a pension scheme cannot choose to give up its registered status. A pension scheme can only lose its registered status if HMRC withdraw the scheme’s registered status. This is known as de-registration.

HMRC can only remove registration from the whole pension scheme; it cannot withdraw registration from only part of the scheme, i.e. by withdrawing registration at arrangement level.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

When HMRC may de-register a scheme

Section 158 Finance Act 2004

HMRC may only de-register a pension scheme if there are grounds to consider withdrawing the registered status. The broad circumstances in which HMRC may de-register a scheme are if it appears to HMRC that:

  • there is no scheme administrator
  • the scheme administrator has failed to pay a substantial amount of tax or has failed to provide information or documents that need to be provided either automatically or on receipt of an information or inspection notice
  • that any information provided is materially incorrect or any declaration made to HMRC is materially false
  • the whole or main purpose of the scheme is not the provision of authorised benefits (as set out at section 164(1)(a) or (b) of Finance Act 2004)
  • the scheme administrator is not a fit or proper person
  • in any 12 month period the scheme has made ‘scheme chargeable payments’ of more than the de-registration threshold
  • after 5 April 2018 one or more of the sponsoring employers is a dormant company, or
  • after the coming into force of section 3 of the Pension Schemes Act 2017 (PSA 17) a Master Trust scheme is unauthorised.

The full circumstances in which HMRC is able to de-register a scheme are explained at PTM033200.

Where a registered pension scheme has given HMRC grounds to de-register the scheme, for example where there is no scheme administrator, de-registration is not automatic. HMRC will consider the facts and circumstances of each case and decide whether or not to de-register the scheme.

If HMRC decides to de-register a scheme, the scheme will lose its registered status from the date of that decision. It is not possible to backdate the withdrawal of registration.

Notification of de-registration

Section 157(2) to (4) Finance Act 2004

When HMRC de-registers a pension scheme it will notify the scheme administrator that is has de-registered the scheme, telling them the date on and after which the scheme is no longer registered.

If there is no scheme administrator HMRC will notify the person(s) who has responsibility for the discharge of any obligation relating to the pension scheme and whom it is reasonably practicable for HMRC to identify. PTM155000 gives more detail of who is responsible for the discharge of a scheme administrator obligation if there is no scheme administrator, they cannot be traced or the scheme administrator has defaulted.

HMRC will also notify the Pensions Regulator that the scheme has been de-registered.

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Appeal against de-registration

Section 159 Finance Act 2004

The scheme administrator (or any other person who received the notification of withdrawal of registration because there was no scheme administrator) may appeal against HMRC’s decision to de-register the scheme.

The appeal must be made in writing within 30 days of the date of the letter notifying the decision to de-register the scheme.

If the outcome of the appeal is that it is decided that the decision to de-register the scheme was wrong, the pension scheme is to be treated as if it had remained a registered pension scheme.

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Tax consequences

Following de-registration, the person who was the scheme administrator immediately before the scheme ceased to be registered becomes liable to the de-registration charge. The amount of the tax charge is broadly 40% of the value of the scheme assets held immediately before the scheme was de-registered. PTM033300 gives more information on the tax consequences when a scheme is de-registered.