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B13: Pension scheme registration

REGISTRATION
 

REGISTRATION

Application to be registered

"(1) An application may be made to the Inland Revenue for a pension scheme to be registered.

(2) The application—

(a) must contain any information which is reasonably required by the Inland Revenue in any form specified by the Board of Inland Revenue, and

(b) must be accompanied by a declaration that the application is made by the scheme administrator (see section 270) and any other declarations by the scheme administrator which are reasonably required by the Inland Revenue.

(3) The declarations which the Inland Revenue may require to accompany an application for the registration of a pension scheme include, in particular, a declaration that the instruments or agreements by which it is constituted do not entitle any person to unauthorised payments (see section 160(5))." (FA 2004, s.153)

 

Application to be registered

- Penalties for inaccuracies in application​

 

"(1) This section applies where—

(a) an application under section 153 contains information which is inaccurate,

(b) the inaccuracy is material, and

(c) condition A, B or C is met.

(2) Condition A is that the inaccuracy is careless or deliberate.

(3) An inaccuracy is careless if it is due to a failure by the scheme administrator to take reasonable care.

(4) Condition B is that the scheme administrator knows of the inaccuracy at the time the application is made but does not inform an officer of Revenue and Customs at that time.

(5) Condition C is that the scheme administrator—

(a) discovers the inaccuracy some time later, and

(b) fails to take reasonable steps to inform an officer of Revenue and Customs.

(6) The scheme administrator is liable to a penalty not exceeding the maximum penalty for which the scheme administrator could have been liable under paragraph 40A of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (penalties for inaccurate information and documents) had that paragraph applied in relation to the inaccuracy.

(7) Where the information contains more than one material inaccuracy, a penalty is payable for each inaccuracy.

(8) Paragraphs 46 to 49 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (assessment of penalties etc) apply in relation to a penalty under this section as they apply in relation to a penalty under paragraph 40A of that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.153D)

 

- Penalties for inaccuracies in application​

- Penalties for false declarations

 

"(1) This section applies where—

(a) a declaration accompanying an application under section 153 is false, and

(b) at least one of conditions A to C in section 153D is met (reading references to an inaccuracy as references to a falsehood and references to the scheme administrator as references to the person who made the declaration).

(2) The person who made the declaration is liable to a penalty not exceeding the maximum penalty for which the person could have been liable under paragraph 40A of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (penalties for inaccurate information and documents) had that paragraph applied in relation to the falsehood.

(3) Where the declaration contains more than one falsehood, a penalty is payable in relation to each falsehood.

(4) Paragraphs 46 to 49 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (assessment of penalties etc) apply in relation to a penalty under this section as they apply in relation to a penalty under paragraph 40A of that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.153F)

- Penalties for false declarations

HMRC powers to require information

HMRC powers to require information ​

- Information or documents relating to application

 

"(1) This section applies where an application for a pension scheme to be registered is made.

(2) An officer of Revenue and Customs may by notice (an “information notice”) require the scheme administrator or any other person—

(a) to provide the officer with any information, or

(b) to produce a document to the officer,

if the officer reasonably requires the information or document in connection with the application (including any declaration accompanying it).

(3) Paragraphs 6(2), 7, 8, 15, 16, 18 to 20, 23 to 27, 42 and 43 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (information notices etc) apply in relation to information notices under this section as they apply in relation to information notices under that Schedule.

(4) Where an information notice under this section is given to a person other than the scheme administrator, an officer of Revenue and Customs must give a copy of the notice to the scheme administrator.

(5) A person, other than the scheme administrator, who is given an information notice under this section may appeal against the notice or any requirement in the notice.

(6) Paragraph 32 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (procedures for appeals against information notices) applies for the purposes of an appeal under subsection (5) as it applies for the purposes of an appeal under Part 5 of that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.153A)

 

- Information or documents relating to application

- Inspecting documents relating to application

 

"(1) This section applies where an application for a pension scheme to be registered is made.

(2) An officer of Revenue and Customs may—

(a) enter any business premises of the scheme administrator or any other person, and

(b) inspect documents that are on the premises,

if the officer reasonably requires to inspect the documents in connection with the application (including any declaration accompanying it).

(3) In subsection (2)(a) “business premises” has the meaning given by paragraph 10(3) of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (power to inspect business premises etc).

(4) Paragraphs 10(2), 12, 15 and 16 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 apply in relation to the power of inspection conferred by this section as they apply in relation to the power of inspection conferred by paragraph 10 of that Schedule.

(5) An officer of Revenue and Customs may not inspect a document under this section if or to the extent that, by virtue of a provision of Part 4 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (restrictions on powers) applied by section 153A(3), an information notice under section 153A given at the time of the inspection to the occupier of the premises could not require the occupier to produce the document.

(6) An officer of Revenue and Customs may ask the tribunal to approve an inspection under this section.

(7) Paragraph 13(1A), (2) and (3) of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (approval of tribunal for inspections) applies in relation to an application under subsection (6) as it applies in relation to an application under paragraph 13 of that Schedule in relation to an inspection under paragraph 10 of that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.153B)

- Inspecting documents relating to application

- Penalties

 

Failure to comply

"(1) This section applies where a person other than the scheme administrator—

(a) fails to comply with an information notice under section 153A, or

(b) deliberately obstructs an officer of Revenue and Customs in the course of an inspection under section 153B that has been approved by the tribunal.

(2) The reference in subsection (1)(a) to a person who fails to comply with an information notice includes a person who conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of, or arranges for the concealment, destruction or disposal of, a document in breach of paragraph 42 or 43 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 as applied by section 153A(3).

(3) Paragraphs 39(2), 40 and 44 to 49 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (penalties for failure to comply with information notice etc) apply in relation to the failure or obstruction as they apply in relation to a failure or obstruction mentioned in paragraph 39(1) of that Schedule."  (FA 2004, s.153C)

Providing inaccurate information

"(1) This section applies where—

(a) in complying with an information notice under section 153A, a person provides inaccurate information or produces a document that contains an inaccuracy, and

(b) the inaccuracy is material.

(2) Paragraphs 40A and 46 to 49 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (penalties for inaccurate information and documents) apply in relation to the inaccuracy as they apply in relation to an inaccuracy connected with an information notice under that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.153E)

- Penalties

HMRC to register unless reason not to

 

"(4) Following receipt of an application for a pension scheme to be registered the Inland Revenue must decide whether or not to register the pension scheme.

(5) The Inland Revenue's decision must be to register the pension scheme unless it appears that—

Inaccurate/false information

(a) any information falling within subsection (5A) is inaccurate in a material respect,

(b) any document falling within subsection (5B) contains a material inaccuracy,

(c) any declaration accompanying the application is false,

Failure to comply with information notice/obstructing HMRC

(d) the scheme administrator has failed to comply with an information notice under section 153A given in connection with the application (including any declaration accompanying it),

(e) the scheme administrator has deliberately obstructed an officer of Revenue and Customs in the course of an inspection under section 153B carried out in connection with the application (including any declaration accompanying it) where the inspection has been approved by the tribunal,

Scheme not established for permitted purpose

(f) the pension scheme has not been established, or is not being maintained, wholly or mainly for the purpose of making payments falling within section 164(1)(a) or (b) (authorised payments of pensions and lump sums), or

Administrator not fit and proper

(g) the person who is, or any of the persons who are, the scheme administrator is not a fit and proper person to be, as the case may be—

(i) the scheme administrator, or

(ii) one of the persons who are the scheme administrator, or

Dormant corporate sponsoring employer

(h) the pension scheme is an occupational pension scheme, and a sponsoring employer in relation to the scheme is a body corporate that has been dormant during a continuous period of one month that falls within the period of one year ending with the day on which the decision is made, or

Unauthorised Master Trust

(i) the pension scheme is an unauthorised Master Trust scheme." (FA 2004, s.153)

Information that must be accurate

"(5A) The information falling within this subsection is any information—

(a) contained in the application, or

(b) otherwise provided to an officer of Revenue and Customs by the scheme administrator (whether under section 153A or otherwise) in connection with the application (including any declaration accompanying it).

(5B) The documents falling within this subsection are any documents produced to an officer of Revenue and Customs by the scheme administrator (whether under section 153A or otherwise) in connection with the application (including any declaration accompanying it)." (FA 2004, s.153)

Not complying with information notice includes concealment and destruction

"(5C) The reference in subsection (5)(d) to the scheme administrator having failed to comply with an information notice under section 153A includes a case where the scheme administrator has concealed, destroyed or otherwise disposed of, or has arranged for the concealment, destruction or disposal of, a document in breach of paragraph 42 or 43 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 as applied by section 153A(3)."  (FA 2004, s.153)

HMRC to register unless reason not to

HMRC must notify administrator of decision and date of registration

 

"(6) The Inland Revenue must notify the scheme administrator of the decision on the application.

(7) Unless the Inland Revenue's decision is not to register the pension scheme, the notification must state the day on and after which the pension scheme will be a registered pension scheme."  (FA 2004, s.153)

HMRC must notify administrator of decision and date of registration

- HMRC fail to notify decision within 6 months: appeal to Tribunal

 

"(1) This section applies where—

(a) an application for a pension scheme to be registered is made, but

(b) the scheme administrator is not notified under section 153(6) within the period of 6 months after the day on which the application is made.

(2) The scheme administrator may appeal to the tribunal as if, at the end of that period of 6 months, the scheme administrator had been notified under section 153(6) of a decision not to register the scheme; and section 156(5) to (8) applies accordingly."  (FA 2004, s.156A)

- HMRC fail to notify decision within 6 months: appeal to Tribunal

Appeal refusal of registration

 

"(1) This section applies where, on an application for a pension scheme to be registered, the Inland Revenue's decision is not to register the pension scheme.

(2) The scheme administrator may appeal against the decision.

...

(5) An appeal under this section against a decision must be brought within the period of 30 days beginning with the day on which the scheme administrator was notified of the decision.

(6) On an appeal under this section that is notified to the tribunal, the tribunal must consider whether the pension scheme ought to have been registered by the Inland Revenue.

(7) If the tribunal decides that the pension scheme ought not to have been registered by the Inland Revenue, the tribunal must dismiss the appeal.

(8) If the tribunal decides that the pension scheme ought to have been registered by the Inland Revenue, the pension scheme is to be treated as having been registered on such date as the tribunal determines (but subject to any further appeal)."  (FA 2004, s.156)

Appeal refusal of registration

Annuity contracts treated as becoming registered pension schemes

 

"(8) An annuity contract made with an insurance company—

(a) by means of which benefits under a registered pension scheme have been secured, but

(b) which does not provide for the immediate payment of benefits,

is to be treated as having become a registered pension scheme on the day on which it is made.

(8A) Where an order has been made under section 19(4) or 21(2)(a) of the Pensions Act 2004 or Article 15(4) or 17(2)(a) of the Pensions (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 (restitution by order of court or Pensions Regulator) that property or money be transferred, or a sum be paid, towards an annuity contract made with an insurance company, the annuity contract is to be treated as having become a registered pension scheme on the day on which it is made."  (FA 2004, s.153)

Annuity contracts treated as becoming registered pension schemes

DEREGISTRATION
 

DEREGISTRATION

Discretion to deregister

 

"(1) The Inland Revenue may withdraw the registration of a pension scheme." (FA 2004, s.157)

Discretion to deregister

Grounds of deregistration

 

"(1) The registration of a pension scheme may be withdrawn under section 157 only if it appears to the Inland Revenue—

Scheme not maintained for permitted purpose

(za) that the pension scheme has not been established, or is not being maintained, wholly or mainly for the purpose of making payments falling within section 164(1)(a) or (b) (authorised payments of pensions and lump sums),

Administrator not fit and proper

(zb) that the person who is, or any of the persons who are, the scheme administrator is not a fit and proper person to be, as the case may be—

(i) the scheme administrator, or

(ii) one of the persons who are the scheme administrator,

Scheme chargeable payments exceed threshold

(a) that the amount of the scheme chargeable payments (see section 241) made by the pension scheme during any period of 12 months exceeds the de-registration threshold,

Failure to pay substantial amount of tax/interest

(b) that the scheme administrator fails to pay a substantial amount of tax (or interest on tax) due from the scheme administrator by virtue of this Part,

Failure to comply with information notice

(c) that the scheme administrator fails to provide information required to be provided to the Inland Revenue by virtue of this Part or Part 1 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 and the failure is significant,

Information in application inaccurate

(d) that any information contained in the application to register the pension scheme or otherwise provided to the Inland Revenue is inaccurate in a material particular,

Failure to provide document/providing inaccurate document

(da) that the scheme administrator fails to produce any document required to be produced to an officer of Revenue and Customs by virtue of this Part or Part 1 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008,

(db) that any document produced to an officer of Revenue and Customs by the scheme administrator contains a material inaccuracy in relation to which at least one of conditions A to C in subsections (7) to (10) is met,

(e) that any declaration accompanying the application to register the pension scheme, or otherwise made to an officer of Revenue and Customs in connection with the pension scheme, is false in a material particular,

Deliberate obstruction

(ea) that the scheme administrator has deliberately obstructed an officer of Revenue and Customs in the course of an inspection under section 159B or Part 2 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 that has been approved by the tribunal, or

No or dormant scheme administrator

(f) that there is no scheme administrator, or

(g) that the pension scheme is an occupational pension scheme, and a sponsoring employer in relation to the scheme is a body corporate that has been dormant during a continuous period of one month that falls within the period of one year ending with the day on which the decision to withdraw registration is made, or

Unauthorised Master Trust scheme

(h) that the scheme is an unauthorised Master Trust scheme." (FA 2004, s.158)

 

Scheme chargeable payments threshold

"(2) The amount of the scheme chargeable payments made by a pension scheme during any period of 12 months exceeds the de-registration threshold if the scheme chargeable payments percentage is 25% or more.

(3) The scheme chargeable payments percentage is—

(a) if only one scheme chargeable payment is made during the period of 12 months, the percentage of the pension fund used up on the occasion of that scheme chargeable payment, and

(b) if two or more scheme chargeable payments are made during the period of 12 months, the aggregate of the percentages of the pension fund used up on the occasion of each of those scheme chargeable payments.

(4) The percentage of the pension fund used up on the occasion of a scheme chargeable payment is—

(SCP/AA) x 100

where—

SCP is the amount of the scheme chargeable payment, and

AA is an amount equal to the aggregate of the amount of the sums and the market value of the assets held for the purposes of the pension scheme at the time when the scheme chargeable payment is made." (FA 2004, s.158)

 

Significant failure to provide information

"(5) A failure by a scheme administrator to provide information required to be provided to the Inland Revenue by or under this Part or Part 1 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 is significant if—

(a) the amount of information which the scheme administrator fails to provide is substantial, or

(b) the failure to provide the information is likely to result in serious prejudice to the assessment or collection of tax." (FA 2004, s.158)

Material inaccuracy

"(6) Subsections (7) to (10) apply for the purposes of subsection (1)(db).

(7) Condition A is that the inaccuracy is careless or deliberate.

(8) An inaccuracy is careless if it is due to a failure by the scheme administrator to take reasonable care.

(9) Condition B is that the scheme administrator knows of the inaccuracy at the time the document is produced to an officer of Revenue and Customs but does not inform such an officer at that time.

(10) Condition C is that the scheme administrator—

(a) discovers the inaccuracy some time later, and

(b) fails to take reasonable steps to inform an officer of Revenue and Customs." (FA 2004, s.158)

Grounds of deregistration

- Discretion if ground satisfied

 

"[20] All of this supports our analysis that section 158(1) simply lists the grounds which constitute gating items to the possible application of the deregistration power in section 157.  There is no justification in the words of section 158 for reading in a different approach to the grounds, depending on whether they mirror a ground for refusing registration or not.  Once one of these gating requirements is satisfied, HMRC "may" withdraw the registration of a scheme." (NBC (Administration Services) Limited v. HMRC [2024] UKFTT 120 (TC), Judge Baldwin)

- Discretion if ground satisfied

- Need only appear to HMRC that a ground is satisfied

 

"[21] HMRC can only withdraw the registration of a pension scheme "if it appears to [them] that" one or more of the situations described in section 158(1) is the case.  For HMRC, Mr Marks stresses that phrase and submits that all that is required for one of the gating conditions to be met is that there is an 'appearance' that a ground is present.  We agree that the test is clearly not that one or more of those grounds actually is present.  If it were, Parliament would not have included the words just quoted. 

[22] We also agree that the test is subjective. It asks whether something "appears to [HMRC]" to be the case. The words just quoted can usefully be contrasted with phrases such as "it is reasonable to suppose that", which are becoming increasingly common in fiscal legislation." (NBC (Administration Services) Limited v. HMRC [2024] UKFTT 120 (TC), Judge Baldwin)

- Need only appear to HMRC that a ground is satisfied

- Not sufficient that it appears ground 'might' be the case

 

"[20] All of this supports our analysis that section 158(1) simply lists the grounds which constitute gating items to the possible application of the deregistration power in section 157.  There is no justification in the words of section 158 for reading in a different approach to the grounds, depending on whether they mirror a ground for refusing registration or not.  Once one of these gating requirements is satisfied, HMRC "may" withdraw the registration of a scheme." (NBC (Administration Services) Limited v. HMRC [2024] UKFTT 120 (TC), Judge Baldwin)

- Not sufficient that it appears ground 'might' be the case

Powers to require information

Powers to require information

- Power to require information

 

(1) An officer of Revenue and Customs may by notice (an “information notice”) require the scheme administrator of a registered pension scheme or any other person—

(a) to provide the officer with any information, or

(b) to produce a document to the officer,

if the officer reasonably requires the information or document for the purpose of considering whether the person who is, or any of the persons who are, the scheme administrator is a fit and proper person to be the scheme administrator or one of those persons (as the case may be).

(2) Paragraphs 6(2), 7, 8, 15, 16, 18 to 20, 23 to 27, 42 and 43 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (information notices etc) apply in relation to information notices under this section as they apply in relation to information notices under that Schedule.

(3) Where an information notice under this section is given to a person other than the scheme administrator, an officer of Revenue and Customs must give a copy of the notice to the scheme administrator.

(4) A person who is given an information notice under this section may appeal against the notice or any requirement in the notice.

(5) Paragraph 32 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (procedures for appeals against information notices) applies for the purposes of an appeal under subsection (4) as it applies for the purposes of an appeal under Part 5 of that Schedule.

- Power to require information

- Power to inspect

 

"(1) An officer of Revenue and Customs may—

(a) enter any business premises of the scheme administrator of a registered pension scheme or of any other person, and

(b) inspect documents that are on the premises,

if the officer reasonably requires to inspect the documents for the purpose of considering whether the person who is, or any of the persons who are, the scheme administrator is a fit and proper person to be the scheme administrator or one of those persons (as the case may be).

(2) In subsection (1)(a) “business premises” has the meaning given by paragraph 10(3) of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (power to inspect business premises etc).

(3) Paragraphs 10(2), 12, 15 and 16 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 apply in relation to the power of inspection conferred by this section as they apply in relation to the power of inspection conferred by paragraph 10 of that Schedule.

(4) An officer of Revenue and Customs may not inspect a document under this section if or to the extent that, by virtue of a provision of Part 4 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (restrictions on powers) applied by section 159A(2), an information notice under section 159A given at the time of the inspection to the occupier of the premises could not require the occupier to produce the document.

(5) An officer of Revenue and Customs may ask the tribunal to approve an inspection under this section.

(6) Paragraph 13(1A), (2) and (3) of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (approval of tribunal for inspections) applies in relation to an application under subsection (5) as it applies in relation to an application under paragraph 13 of that Schedule in relation to an inspection under paragraph 10 of that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.159B)

- Power to inspect

- Penalties for failure to comply

 

"(1) This section applies where a person—

(a) fails to comply with an information notice under section 159A, or

(b) deliberately obstructs an officer of Revenue and Customs in the course of an inspection under section 159B that has been approved by the tribunal.

(2) The reference in subsection (1)(a) to a person who fails to comply with an information notice includes a person who conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of, or arranges for the concealment, destruction or disposal of, a document in breach of paragraph 42 or 43 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 as applied by section 159A(2).

(3) Paragraphs 39(2), 40 and 44 to 49 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (penalties for failure to comply with information notice etc) apply in relation to the failure or obstruction as they apply in relation to a failure or obstruction mentioned in paragraph 39(1) of that Schedule."

 (FA 2004, s.157)

- Penalties for failure to comply

- Penalties for inaccurate information under information notice

 

"(1) This section applies where—

(a) in complying with an information notice under section 159A, a person provides inaccurate information or produces a document that contains an inaccuracy, and

(b) the inaccuracy is material.

(2) Paragraphs 40A and 46 to 49 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 (penalties for inaccurate information and documents) apply in relation to the inaccuracy as they apply in relation to an inaccuracy connected with an information notice under that Schedule." (FA 2004, s.157)

- Penalties for inaccurate information under information notice

HMRC to notify deregistration

 

"(2) If the Inland Revenue withdraws the registration of a pension scheme the Inland Revenue must notify the scheme administrator.

(3) If there is no-one who is the scheme administrator, the Inland Revenue must instead notify any person or persons—

(a) who has or have responsibility for the discharge of any obligation relating to the pension scheme under section 271(4) (continuation of liability where no scheme administrator), section 272 (trustees etc) or section 273 (members), and

(b) whom it is reasonably practicable for the Inland Revenue to identify.

(4) The notification must state the date on and after which the pension scheme will not be a registered pension scheme." (FA 2004, s.157)

HMRC to notify deregistration

Appeal decision to deregister

 

"(1) This section applies where the Inland Revenue decides to withdraw the registration of a pension scheme under section 157.

(2) The scheme administrator, or any person notified under that section of the withdrawal of registration, may appeal against the decision.

...

(5) An appeal under this section against a decision must be brought within the period of 30 days beginning with the day on which the appellant was notified of the decision.

(6) On an appeal that is notified to the tribunal, the tribunal must consider whether the registration of the pension scheme ought to have been withdrawn.

(7) If the tribunal decides that the registration of the pension scheme ought to have been withdrawn, the tribunal must dismiss the appeal.

(8) If the tribunal decides that the registration of the pension scheme ought not to have been withdrawn, the pension scheme is to be treated as having remained a registered pension scheme (but subject to any further appeal." (FA 2004, s.159)

Appeal decision to deregister
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