26th April 2024 - Stacey Chamberlain

What you need to know about taking your pension tax-free lump sum in 2024/25

Taking a tax-free lump sum from your pension could be a fantastic way to kickstart your retirement plans. If it’s something you’re thinking about, it’s important to consider the long-term implications and understand how much you could withdraw from your pension before facing a tax bill, as the rules have changed in 2024/25.

Previously, you could take 25% of your pension as a tax-free lump sum. This could be through a single withdrawal or spread across several payments. However, following the removal of the pension Lifetime Allowance, there is now a new cap.

The “Lump Sum Allowance” is £268,275 in 2024/25

In 2023, chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the pension Lifetime Allowance (LTA) would be scrapped in the 2024/25 tax year. The LTA limited the amount of pension benefits you could build up during your lifetime without incurring an additional tax charge.

With workers now able to save more into their pension tax-efficiently during their careers, the government has frozen the limit on tax-free withdrawals from your pension.

In 2024/25, you can still usually take up to 25% of your pension tax-free – although now there is a cap on the total tax-free cash you can take. This is the new Lump Sum Allowance (LSA) of £268,275.

Your LSA may be higher if you benefit from one of the various types of LTA “protection”, such as “individual” or “fixed” protection.

Withdrawing a tax-free lump sum could harm your long-term finances

If you want to take a lump sum from your pension, the new rules aren’t the only area you might want to consider. You may also want to weigh up the effect it could have on your long-term finances.

There are plenty of reasons to take a lump sum from your pension, and some could improve your financial position in retirement. For example, you could use the lump sum to clear your mortgage or other debt, which may significantly reduce your outgoings in retirement and lead to a more comfortable and secure lifestyle.

Alternatively, you might plan to use the money to reach aspirations, like travelling the world once you stop working. 

It could be a great way to fund your early retirement plans. However, taking a lump sum from your pension could have a significant effect on your long-term financial security and income. Not only will you be reducing the size of your pension but, as your pension is usually invested, you may have a smaller pot left to invest, reducing your potential for further growth.

Understanding the potential implications of taking a lump sum at the start or during your retirement could help you make a decision that’s right for you.

You may find that after taking a lump sum from your pension you’ll still be financially secure and able to reach long-term goals. If this is the result, you might feel more confident taking a lump sum and more able to enjoy your retirement.

On the other hand, if you find taking a lump sum could harm your long-term finances, you may decide to halt your plans or make adjustments to improve your financial security throughout retirement.

As financial planners, we can help you understand the consequences of taking a lump sum and what it means for your retirement.

On average, over-55s spend a third of their tax-free lump sum within 6 months

A 2023 survey from Standard Life found that over-55s who have taken a tax-free lump sum, on average, spend or expect to spend a third of their withdrawal within six months.

While having some cash to fall back on in retirement could be useful, withdrawing a lump sum to hold the money outside of your pension might not be financially savvy.

The money held in your pension is usually invested, so it has the potential to deliver returns during your retirement. In addition, investments held in your pension are not liable for Capital Gains Tax, so it provides a tax-efficient way to invest. If you withdraw money from your pension to hold in cash, its value could fall in real terms, and you might miss out on potential long-term growth.

Of course, investment returns cannot be guaranteed, and they could experience volatility. As a result, it’s important to consider your risk profile and circumstances when deciding how to manage your pension.

Setting out how you plan to use your tax-free lump sum and making it part of your wider financial plan could help you assess if withdrawing it now or in the future is right for you. 

Contact us to talk about your pension withdrawals

When you’re accessing your pension, whether to take a lump sum or a regular income, you might worry about what’s right for you. Working with a financial planner could give you confidence in retirement. Please contact us to talk to one of our team about how to access your pension in a way that’s tax-efficient and aligns with your goals.

Risk warnings

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates, and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts. 

Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.

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