Help Centre for Advisers

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 2017/18 tax year. For more info click here.

Our broker recommended NOW: Pensions, as they believed it would be our best option. We have not been disappointed, the NOW: Pensions customer support teams are great and always available. — Bromborough Paint & Building Supplies Ltd
NOW: Pensions was attractive to us because the staff were very helpful and they sent over all the information required. This made the decision easy. — Metro Surveillance Group Ltd
NOW: Pensions has a good technical infrastructure combined with a pension product suitable for our team. We couldn’t be happier with NOW: Pensions. — Martin Woods, SALT.agency
I've known ATP for many years and have enormous respect for the effectiveness of their investment strategy. I'm convinced that NOW: Pensions can become a major player in the UK and look forward to being a part of that success. — Chris Daykin, the former Government Actuary
I am backing NOW: Pensions, the ATP project, because I believe it will encourage transparency, low costs and decent returns for millions of British employees. — Nigel Waterson, former Shadow Pensions Minister