The scheme administrator is responsible for registering a pension scheme with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and telling them when their scheme has wound up. This guide tells you what the conditions are for registering a scheme and reporting the winding up of a scheme to HMRC.
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Only registered pension schemes can qualify for tax relief on all of the following:
A pension scheme that had tax approval on 5 April 2006 is automatically a registered pension scheme.
A pension scheme can only become a registered pension scheme if it's:
The scheme must have a named scheme administrator in the scheme documents.
A registered pension scheme doesn't have to be set up in the UK but the scheme administrator has to be resident in one of the following countries:
Most pension schemes are set up as a trust but they don't have to be. More on the role of a pension scheme trustee in the link below.
You should register the scheme after you've set it up and ideally before any money has been put into the scheme. Tax relief can only be given once the scheme is registered.
You can't backdate the registration to before the application was made. If the scheme receives contributions before it’s registered they won't qualify for tax relief. If the scheme receives a transfer from a registered pension scheme before it’s registered the scheme making the transfer will have made an unauthorised payment.
The scheme administrator must register the pension scheme using the Pension Schemes Online Service. You can't do it by paper.
If you haven't used this online service before you'll need to sign up to use it before you can register the scheme. This process can take up to seven working days. Find out more about this by following the link below.
You must give details about the scheme including who set it up and declare that:
At the same time as you register the scheme you can apply to use the relief at source process to claim relief on pension contributions or you can leave this until after you've registered.
Relief at source is the method of giving tax relief on member contributions used by personal pension schemes and some occupational pension schemes. The scheme administrator is responsible for claiming the basic rate tax relief on member contributions. Find out more in the link below.
After completing the registration the online service will show a 'submission successful' screen and give the Pension Scheme Tax Reference (PSTR). This is a ten character reference with eight numbers at the front and a check letter at the end. It looks like - 00000000RA.
You'll need the PSTR when you contact HMRC or send in information reports and tax returns.
HMRC will send:
A scheme wind up is where the scheme ceases to exist.
The scheme assets will either be:
The scheme administrator must submit an Event Report to HMRC using the Pension Schemes Online Service giving the date the scheme completed winding-up. You have three months from the date the scheme finished winding up to do this.
You must continue to meet all information reporting requirements until you tell HMRC of the wind up.
Most schemes approved before 6 April 2006 have been given a PSTR. However, if you haven't needed to contact HMRC you probably won't have signed up to use Pension Schemes Online or have the scheme's PSTR. Use the scheme's tax approval reference number to find the scheme record on Pension Schemes Online. The number looks like this - SF 000/000000/000000/A.
This is a numerical reference with a check letter at the end. The first section of the reference is alphanumerical, for example if the name of the employer that set up the scheme began with an A (eg ABC Ltd) the SF number will begin 001/.
If you've got the tax approval reference number, contact the Pension Schemes Service Helpline to check it's the right number and that it's complete.
If you haven't got the reference number you'll need to get it from the pension provider or insurance company as HMRC can't give it to you.