Why it's important to fill in your Pension Coding form
When you're nearing State Pension age you'll receive form P161 Pension Coding asking for details of your age and income, including pension income. It's very important that you complete and return this. However if you're self-employed you won't automatically receive the form. You'll need to complete or download the form online, or request it from HM Revenue & Customs.
Why and when you get a Pension Coding form P161
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) send you form P161 so that they can work out what tax-free allowances you're entitled to. They also work out how much tax (if any) you should be paying when you start to get your pension income. It’s important to return this form so that HMRC can work out how much tax you need to pay. If you don’t return it, you might pay too much tax.
It’s important to return this form so that HMRC can work out how much tax you need to pay. If you don’t return it, you might pay too much tax.
If you're self-employed you won't automatically get form P161 sent to you. If you're within a month of reaching State Pension age and haven't received a form you can:
- download a copy, print it off and fill it in before returning to HMRC - using the second link below
- ask HMRC to send you a form
If you're unable to fill in the form online or download it, then please contact HMRC.
HMRC also re-send the P161 to you if you're a woman approaching your 65th birthday. They do this so that they can check if your circumstances have changed or whether you qualify for an increased age-related allowance.
If you're within a month of reaching State Pension age and haven't received a form you can download a copy below, print it off and fill it in before returning it to HMRC.
If you're self-employed you won't automatically get form P161 sent to you. You can download it or ask HMRC to send you a form.
If you are unable to download a form please contact your Tax Office.
HMRC also re-sends the P161 to you if you're a woman approaching your 65th birthday. This is to check if your circumstances have changed or whether you qualify for an increased age-related allowance.
Filling in form P161
The instructions below are for use when filling in a paper or downloaded version of the form. The online form has instructions available on the screen.
Your State Pension
You'll need to tell HMRC:
- whether or not you've decided to take up your State Pension now or wait until later (deferral)
- the date you expect payments to start
- the expected weekly amount you will receive
- State Pension deferral - taking up your State Pension later
- Tax if you take your State Pension later on (HMRC website)
You'll need to give details of any company pension or personal pensions you're receiving.
If you expect your pension to begin in this tax year - which runs from 6 April in one year to 5 April in the next - you should delay filling in and sending this form to HMRC until you have a date. If you don't expect the pension to begin this tax year you can carry on filling in this form.
If your pension has started, you'll find the pension number (or the 'pension annuity number') on your pension payslips or on letters from your pension provider.
There are certain situations where you might get a one-off lump sum pension payment rather than a regular pension income.
A triviality lump sum pension payment occurs when your total pension from an occupational scheme is small. In these cases the pension provider makes you a lump sum payment instead of regular payments.
A wind up lump sum pension payment occurs when an occupational scheme has been wound up. In this situation the pension provider makes you a lump sum payment instead of continuing your pension.
If either of these situations apply give details of the lump sum payment that you received before tax in the 'Other information' box on page 4. The tax deducted from the lump sum might be more than the tax you need to pay on it.
Income from taxable benefits
You'll need to state the full amount of any Jobseeker's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance you get (this may count as taxable income). HMRC will be able to see from the date that it started how much, if any, is taxable. Follow the link below to find out more about taxable and non-taxable income.
Earnings from employment or self-employment
If you're still employed, you'll need to tell HMRC how much income you're getting.
If you're self-employed and haven't completed a tax return, you'll need to give your estimated profits for the tax year. HMRC will know your income once they receive your tax return after the end of the tax year.
Savings income and any other taxable income
When filling in these sections, remember:
- ignore income that isn't taxable (see link below)
- show only half of any income you get in joint names, such as interest on a joint bank account
If you've sent a tax return for the last tax year, you don't need to fill in the above sections as HMRC will use your tax return to work out your income. Just fill in the box asking for your ten-figure tax reference - you'll find this on the front of your tax return.
Gift Aid increases the value of donations to charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) by allowing them to reclaim basic rate tax on your gift. If you pay higher rate tax you can claim extra relief on your donations. If you claim age-related allowances, Gift Aid donations can sometimes increase your entitlement.
Returning the form
For paper versions of the form remember to sign and date your form and send it back as soon as possible, using the reply envelope you were sent with it. If you've downloaded a form, send it to the address found in the link below.