Why it pays not to delay topping up your state pension before tax year end

People considering paying voluntary National Insurance Contributions (NICs) should act quickly to avoid a rise in the cost of plugging gaps.

Contribution costs are set to rise from 5 April with the new tax year.

Pension provider Royal London is warning those people thinking of filling the gaps to make contributions before this date.

For instance, making an annual rate contribution for tax year 2010-11 currently costs £626.60. However, if you make the contribution after 5 April, the cost shoots up by £153.40 to £780.

Those who reach pension age after 5 April 2016, who come under the new state pension system can fill gaps in their National Insurance record at these more favourable rates until the end of the tax year.

Steve Webb, Royal London director of policy and former pensions minister, comments: “For many people, topping up their state pension through paying voluntary NICs can produce a good rate of return because the cost of doing so is subsidised by the government. 

“But the price of voluntary NICs will rise sharply in April, so those considering doing so may wish to act quickly [as they] could save hundreds of pounds by doing so.”

It is, however, essential to check that filling the gaps will boost your state pension before you take action. You can do this by checking your state pension on the government website or by speaking to the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175.

The table below shows the additional costs that you will incur for top-ups after 5 April 2019:

A table showing the additional costs that you will incur for topping up your state pension after 5 April 2019

Source: Royal London, January 2019

Financial planners are actively encouraging their clients to pay ahead of the end of the tax year.

Jon Treharne, managing director of Shore Financial Planning, says: “Many people will be unaware that the cost of filling historic gaps in their National Insurance record is due to be hiked in April.

“I would encourage anyone thinking of filling such gaps and who has checked that they will increase their pension by doing so, to consider whether they would be best advised to top up before 6 April.”

Why you should top up your NICs

Even paying the higher amount to make up for missed years can prove good value for money as each tax year paid represents 1/35th of your entire state pension entitlement.

From the new tax year, those with full state pension entitlement will receive around £168.60 per week. This means that each additional year that you plug is worth around £4.80 per week for life.

This is equivalent to £250 per year. So, if you pay one extra year of NICs you’ll earn back what you paid in three years.

With the contribution costs rising from 5 April, it makes sense to get the extra contributions paid for now as you’ll get the same amount of state pension for less than after the new tax year.

However, it is important to consider your personal lifestyle and any health issues that you may have or foresee, as you might not live long enough to reap the benefit of extra contributions if you are in poor health.

This article was originally written by our sister publication Moneywise.

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