Keir Starmer plans ‘brutal’ 55% pensions tax – while making sure he never pays it himself | Personal Finance | Finance


The tax charge is called the pensions lifetime allowance (LTA), and it’s one of the most unfair taxes of all. I’ve been talking to experts about it over the years, and they’ve variously described it as brutal, punitive, heinous and horribly complicated.

So bad, in fact, that even Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, a man renowned for lifting the UK tax take to a 70-year high, decided to abolish it in his Budget in March last year.

Relief over his decision did not last long. Within hours, the Labour Party labelled it a tax break for Hunt’s rich mates, and instantly pledged to restore it when they took power.

Despite a storm of criticism from experts, Labour has yet to row back on this knee-jerk response. The LTA was axed from April 6 this year, but it could be on the way back within months.

But not for everyone, oddly enough.

One man has special immunity to this tax charge, which means he won’t have to pay it no matter how big his pension gets.

And that’s the man responsible for bringing it back.

Under the LTA, anybody who builds up more than £1.07million of workplace and personal pensions will see the surplus taxed at a staggering rate of 55 percent.

Obviously, this will only affect those with really big pension pots. Most of us will never come close to breaching it.

Around two million will, though. Many are successful entrepreneurs or captains of industry, who won’t win much sympathy.

But a large number of public sector workers will also pay including NHS doctors, police officers, senior teachers and military top brass.

Keir Starmer is a notable exception.

His combined pension pots are already thought to be worth more than £1million, even though he’s only 61 years old.

Yet pension dating from his five-year stint as Director of Public Prosecutions between 2008 and 2013 will not count towards the LTA.

Starmer had the amazing foresight to carve a one-man opt out.

He was the sole member and beneficiary of a “tax-unregistered” pension scheme, designed to avoid the financially lethal levy.

When I wrote about this in the Express back in February, I couldn’t believe it was true.

I also assumed that as the election loomed, something would have to give. Starmer surely couldn’t reimpose a pensions tax after angling to avoid it himself?

So far, it looks like he is, despite Tory MP Andrea Leadsom calling him out for his “extraodinary hypocrisy”. I can’t quite believe it, frankly.

Many are worried about the bombshell impact on the NHS, where a record eight million are waiting for an operation.

Reports are emerging of doctors racing to retire, to avoid getting caught out by a return of the pensions lifetime allowance.

A Labour spokesperson had suggested the party would prevent this by reinstating the LTA “in a way that ensures we retain public sector leaders”.

Now it appears to have dropped that plan.

Arranging a carve out for yourself is one thing. Imposing this lousy tax on surgeons carrying out life-saving operations is quite another.

It’s an acknowledgement of how bad this tax is that Keir Starmer took such pains to make sure he didn’t would never pay it himself.

So it’s strange he’s now working so hard to to impose it on others and of all people, NHS doctors. I still can’t believe it. As ever, one rule for them, another for the rest of us.

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