Help Centre for Employers

What’s the difference between net pay and relief at source?

There are two ways pension schemes can collect the tax relief that savers benefit from when contributing to a pension; net pay and relief at source.

NOW: Pensions operates a net pay arrangement and this means the pension contributions are collected before income tax. This means for taxpayers, full tax relief at the highest rate is automatic and no income tax is paid on the money being contributed to a pension.

The alternative system is called relief at source. Here, employers take 80% of an individual’s pension contribution from their take home pay, i.e. after income tax has been deducted. The tax relief is then reclaimed from HMRC by the pension scheme, who send in a monthly request and get the cash back about six weeks later. HMRC only send back the basic rate of tax, namely 20%.

Where an employee in a scheme operating relief at source is a higher or additional rate taxpayer they can claim back the rest of the tax relief themselves from HMRC either by writing to them separately, or through their annual self-assessment tax return.

In a net pay arrangement, employees that don’t pay tax, do not get tax relief on their pension contributions from the government.

NOW: Pensions has announced that it will top up non taxpayers’ pension pots for the 2016/17 tax year. For more info click here.

Why do we insist on having a choice of fund manager when the evidence shows there is usually no benefit to be gained…and there is always a negative impact in terms of cost? — Anthony Hilton financial editor of the Evening Standard writing in Pensions World, June 2013
NOW: Pensions is supportive, easy for our employees to understand and uncomplicated in terms of its implementation. Its structured approach removes the complicated investment choices & makes auto-enrolment a straightforward and simple process. — Mark Manaton, Managing Director, Blue Arrow Group
I'm excited by the opportunity to help bring to the UK auto-enrolment market NOW: Pensions, a customer-friendly and responsive trust-based alternative to NEST and to contract-based offerings. — Chris Daykin, the former Government Actuary
ATP comes to the UK pensions world with the highest commendations from the Danish trade unions, employers and government. NOW: Pensions' offering in the UK will be high quality, low cost, and honest and I'm proud to be associated with it. — John Monks, member of House of Lords and former General Secretary of ETUC and TUC
...its simple design means the pressure is taken off us as the employer and avoids costly administration charges, whilst removing the burden of choice and ensuring the best possible retirement outcome for our employees. — Matthew Johnson, Head of Compensation and Benefits at Adecco Group UK & Ireland