HMRC have now launched their new online service for pension scheme members to apply to protect their pension savings from the lifetime allowance tax charge.
This service replaces the interim paper process for applying for fixed protection 2016 (FP2016) and individual protection 2016 (IP2016) and replaces the online form for applying for individual protection 2014 (IP2014).
From now on, members who want to apply for lifetime allowance protection will have to do so online.
Members who want to apply for protection can access the online service through the GOV.UK guide Pension schemes: protect your lifetime allowance - Detailed guidance - GOV.UK.
To apply members will need an HMRC Online Services Account. To create an account, or to login to an existing one, they should go to HMRC services: sign in or register - GOV.UK.
As this is an online service, members will no longer receive paper certificates with their lifetime allowance protection details. Instead they will be able to view their protection details online and they will be able to print their protection details as necessary.
Alongside the new service, HMRC have published more guidance on GOV.UK to help members who want to apply for lifetime allowance, including a new guide for members on valuing their pensions for IP2014 and IP2016.
Members who are unable to use the online service can contact the HMRC Pensions helpline for help with applying for protection - Pension schemes - Contact HM Revenue & Customs - GOV.UK
Withdrawal of the interim application process
With the launch of the online service, HMRC will no longer process applications for lifetime allowance protection made using the interim process. Any applications made after the 31 July 2016 using the interim, paper process will be returned and HMRC will direct the member to the online service to make their application.
HMRC will process any interim applications on hand at 31 July 2016 but if the application is successful HMRC will issue these members with a permanent protection notification number. Members with permanent protection notification numbers will not need to reapply online and will be able to view details of their protection in their HMRC Online Services Account. To create an account, or to login to an existing one, they should go to [HMRC services: sign in or register](https://www.gov.uk/log-in-register-hmrc-online-services).
Temporary reference numbers
In [Pension Schemes Newsletter 78](https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-schemes-newsletter-78-may-2016/pension-schemes-newsletter-78-may-2016) HMRC explained that from August 2016 onwards they will only recognise permanent protection notification numbers. In addition, when the pension scheme administrator look up service becomes available later in the year, the service will only validate permanent protection notification numbers.
When an individual applies for a permanent protection notification number, details of their IP2016 or FP2016 (and any previous lifetime allowance protections) will show in their personal tax account. HMRC explained that as more services are added the personal tax account will be populated with more details for members to access at any time.