The tax rules don't restrict what a scheme can invest in but if certain conditions aren’t met there may be tax charges on the investment. This will also depend on the type of scheme making the investment.
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There are conditions on:
There are extra conditions if a pension scheme is an investment regulated pension scheme - see the section 'Extra rules for investment regulated pension schemes' below.
If these conditions aren't met the scheme administrator will have to pay tax and, in most cases, either the member or a scheme employer will have to as well.
The Pensions Regulator also has limits on what pension schemes may invest in.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) doesn't publish a list of acceptable investments. In deciding how a scheme investment will be taxed you need to consider:
The following loans from a pension scheme will be unauthorised payments. Loans to a:
But a loan to a scheme employer will be an authorised payment as long as it meets the conditions described below.
Broadly a connected person is a relative, spouse or civil partner of the member. A company is connected to the member if the member has control of it.
A loan from an occupational pension scheme to one of the scheme’s employers will be an unauthorised payment unless all the following conditions are met:
A pension scheme can buy quoted or unquoted shares in a company based either in the UK or overseas.
An occupational pension scheme can buy shares in one or more of the employers participating in the scheme as long as both the following conditions are met:
Any investment larger than this will be an unauthorised payment and both the scheme employer and scheme administrator will have to pay a tax charge on the amount above the limit.
A pension scheme can borrow money from an individual, company or financial institution.
If a scheme borrows an amount that is more than 50 per cent of the value of the pension fund the scheme administrator will have to pay a 40 per cent scheme sanction charge on the amount above the limit.
A pension scheme can enter into a transaction, such as the purchase or sale of a scheme asset, with a member, a scheme employer or someone connected with them. However if the transaction isn't on a commercial, 'arm's length' basis the scheme will have made an unauthorised payment. Both the member/employer and the scheme administrator will have to pay tax on the difference between the market value of the investment and the amount paid or received.
Broadly a connected person is a relative, spouse or civil partner of the member. A company is connected to the member if the member has control of it. A company is connected with another company if both are controlled by the same person - more in the link below.
A scheme is an investment regulated pension scheme if at least one of the members (or someone connected to them) is able to influence how their own pension pot is invested.
An occupational pension scheme with less than 50 members is also an investment regulated pension scheme if at least one of the members (or someone connected to them) is able to influence what the pension scheme invests in.
An unauthorised payment will occur if the scheme invests either directly or indirectly in taxable property that is either:
In this situation both the member and scheme administrator will have to pay tax on the amount paid for the asset, and any costs involved in making the investment. The scheme administrator will also have to pay tax on any income received from the asset and on any capital gain made on its disposal.
The amount of tax due on taxable property depends on whether it's held directly or indirectly by the scheme. If your scheme has invested in taxable property and you want to know how it's taxed follow the link below.
The income and gains from most pension scheme investments aren't taxable.
Often, income from pension scheme investments will be paid without having tax deducted. Where tax has been deducted from this income the scheme can claim the tax back from HM Revenue & Customs.