The lifetime allowance is expressed as a capital value. In its first tax year of implementation (2006–07) it was set at £1.5 million. Over a period of five years, the allowance increased in stages to £1.8 million in 2010–11. Since then, it has been reduced at irregular intervals.

Benefits paid within the allowance are subject to the usual range of taxes described elsewhere in this book. So, for example, the pension is taxed as non-savings income and generous tax-free lump sums are payable on death and retirement.

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