You can pay as much as you want into a pension.
However, each tax year, you can only get tax relief on your ‘relevant’ earnings or on up to £40,000 – whichever is lower. This £40,000 cap is known as the annual allowance.
Your annual allowance includes all contributions made by you, your employer, or anyone else who pays into your pension(s), as well as any tax relief you receive from the government.
The allowance applies across all pensions you have — it’s not a ‘per pension limit’. The annual allowance does not apply to pension transfers.
Relevant earnings usually include salary and any bonuses, but not dividend income or rental income.
Find out more about pension tax relief.
Annual allowance and drawing your pension
Although your annual allowance is based on your earnings for the year and is capped at £40,000, a lower limit of £4,000 may apply if you’ve already started drawing your pension.
Annual allowance and high earners
For the 2016/17 tax year (and onwards), if you have ‘adjusted income’ of more than £150,000, your annual allowance for that same tax year will be tapered, which means that it will reduce depending on your earnings. For every £2 of adjusted income over £150,000, your annual allowance decreases by £1. The minimum annual allowance is £10,000.
However, if your ‘threshold’ income for that year is £110,000 or less, your annual allowance won’t be reduced.
Find out how to calculate your tapered allowance
Annual allowance and carry forward
You can carry forward any unused annual allowance from the three previous years, but the tax relief that you get will be limited to your ‘relevant’ income in the current tax year. More about using carry forward for your pension.
The lifetime allowance
The lifetime allowance is the upper limit on pension benefits you’re allowed to receive before you have to pay tax. The lifetime allowance is £1m.