The 45% additional tax rate was briefly removed by Kwasi Kwarteng, then reinstated by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and in the latest twist, Mr Hunt announced that the point at which people would start paying this highest rate of tax would fall from £150,000 to £125,140 from April 2023.
This may seem a strange figure to move the threshold to, but it relates to the point at which the entire personal allowance for higher-rate taxpayers is removed once they hit the £100,000 income level. The personal allowance of £12,570 is reduced at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn above £100,000. So, the entire allowance has been removed at £125,140. At present, you are taxed at 40% on this amount and above until you reach £150,000 when the rate rises to 45%. But from April, you will pay 45% from £125,140 onwards.
The unofficial 60% income tax rate
The way that the personal allowance is chipped away once you reach the £100,000 threshold means that for the money you are taxed on between this level and the £125,140, you are actually paying 60% in tax. This is not easy to follow, but it works like this:
You earn £101,000 this tax year. This means that you pay tax at 40% on this income. But because you lose the personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn over this figure you will lose £500 of your personal allowance on the £1,000 above the £100,000 threshold. So, you will also pay 40% tax on this additional £500, which gives a bill of £200. Since you are also taxed at 40% on that £101,000, the £1,000 over the £100,000 will give the taxman £400. Add that to the £200 you are paying on the relative loss of the personal allowance, and you have paid £600 in tax on that £1,000, which means you have paid 60% in tax.
Maximise the benefit of the tax change when it happens
While losing money in income tax because of the threshold moving to the lower level of £125,140 from April, it does mean you can benefit from higher tax relief on your pension contributions if you are pulled into the 45% tax bracket.
This is because no matter how much you pay into your pension pot, you get tax relief at your highest marginal rate. For those on the highest rate of tax, this is 45%. So, adding £100 to your pension pot will cost you £55 as the tax relief will provide the remaining £45.
Let us help you
If you think you will be negatively affected by this change or any of the frozen tax thresholds, or you want to take advantage of putting money into your pension and getting the benefit of the additional tax relief no matter which tax band you fall into, then please get in touch with us and we can go through the various options you have.