HMRC have published some guidance regarding the forestalling provisions relating to the new pensions regime whereby tax relief for pensions is reduced for those earning more than £150,000. It may be remembered that only basic rate tax relief will be available for pension contributions after 6 April 2011 for those earning more than £150,000 and there are special provisions which are to apply immediately to discourage any planning in advance of the deadline. For the current year, you can continue to obtain full tax relief for pension contributions up to £20,000 a year, but anything more than that will only be allowed if it represents a continuation of a regular contribution plan which was in operation before budget day.
However, life is never as simple as that and HMRC have therefore published some guidance on special cases. The examples are surprisingly helpful. They look at the normal arrangements and even if somebody has missed a regular contribution, they will not regard that as a reason to diminish the amount of the protected pension contributions.
Some people of course have widely differing contributions often dictated by cash flow considerations, and HMRC cleverly do not take an average (which would give disproportionate weight to a single large contribution) but take the median which is likely to be more representative.
Even where there is a company pension scheme, and the contributions into the scheme as between employer and employee change, they will not make any adjustment but regard the total amount of the pension contribution as being the basis for the calculation.
I continue to hope that the plainly damaging effect of these changes on UK Plc will be appreciated by those who decide these things before it is too late.