In Gary Hymanson v HMRC [2018] TC 6815, the FTT determined that a taxpayer did not lose his fixed protection certificate because he made a mistake in making payments to his pensions.

  • Payments into company and personal pension schemes attract tax relief if they are within both an annual & lifetime allowance.
  • The lifetime allowance was £1.8 million in 2010/11 but was reduced to £1.5 million in 2012/13, and has since been reduced further.
  • To protect those who had already made contributions exceeding the lifetime allowance, a taxpayer could apply for a certificate of fixed protection.

In 2012, the taxpayer obtained a fixed protection certificate for £1.8 million. A condition of the certificate is that the taxpayer makes no further payments into the funds (Finance Act 2011 Sch 18 para 14(4)).

  • The taxpayer had four pension schemes including one where a payment was made according to funds available, and three by regular standing order.
  • The taxpayer realised that he could make no more payments to Light Pension Scheme but did not realise he also had to stop the standing orders to the other funds. This came to light in 2015.
  • HMRC revoked his certificate which had the effect of reducing his lifetime allowance from £1.8 million to £1.5 million, creating an immediate tax liability of about £50,000.
  • The taxpayer appealed.

The issue for the tribunal was then whether the taxpayer could claim equitable relief, citing such cases as Pitt v Holt. HMRC said it could not allow equitable relief, but the judge pointed out that they had already offered some relief. HMRC had said that it would not revoke the certificate if the taxpayer could show that the taxpayer had given directions to stop the standing orders in 2012; that is equitable relief.

The tribunal found that HMRC did not consider whether the standing order payments were void by mistake. Their failure to take that into account made HMRC’s decision unreasonable.


This case involved simple facts but complex legal arguments on such matters as equitable relief. It does not automatically mean that any taxpayer who overpaid on a fixed protection certificate is protected.

UPDATE: HMRC have withdrawn their appeal in this case.


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