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Beneficiaries of tax exempt pension benefits to be extended

The draft Finance Bill includes a new measure that will help modernise the tax treatment of employer paid premiums for the provision of death in service life assurance products for their employees. 

Currently, these premiums are only tax-exempt if the named beneficiary is a member of the employee’s family, or a member of their household. This includes the employee's spouse or civil partner, parents, children and members of the employee’s household (such as domestic staff). As the law stands, if the beneficiary is not a member of the employee’s family or household, the premiums paid by the employer are treated as a taxable benefit in kind.

This new measure will see the tax exemption modernised and extended to include any individual or registered charity as a beneficiary. The inclusion of registered charities is in line with the government's policy of providing tax relief on charitable donations and has been welcomed by the charity sector.

The changes will also apply to employer contributions to qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS). The government has said that these changes are being made to ensure the tax system remains relevant and fair and to reflect societal changes. The new measures are expected to take effect from 6 April 2019.