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Income tax explained

Here we cover the basics of income tax and how tax might be paid on your pension income or savings interest.

Man using calculator

Income tax is collected by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on behalf of the government and is used towards funding public services and education as well as investing in road repairs and housing.

The tax you are charged depends on the amount of taxable income you receive. The salary from your job, profits from your business, pensions and rent received if you’re a landlord are just a few examples of taxable income.

There are allowances which mean you don’t usually pay income tax on all your income.

The personal allowance is an amount of money you are allowed to earn before you start paying income tax which is reviewed every tax year and is subject to change. If you earn less than the personal allowance limit, you shouldn’t need to pay any income tax.

Let’s look at a simple example based on the 2024/25 tax year rates and allowances. Income tax bands and rates are different if you live in Scotland.

Tax band for 2024/25

Taxable income

Tax rate

Personal allowance

Up to £12,570


Basic rate

Between £12,571 and £50,270


Higher rate

Between £50,270 and £125,140


Additional rate

Over £125,140


Let’s look at an example. Joe earns £34,800 and has no savings interest or other income.

The personal allowance means that no tax will be payable on the first £12,570, but will be payable on anything over that amount which is £22,230.

Joe’s earnings are within the Basic rate band, therefore he will pay tax at the basic rate of 20% on £22,230. This means Jo pays £4,446 in tax on this income.                                      

Higher earners

If you earn over £100,000 in a year your personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 you have earned above £100,000. If you earn over £125,140 in a year then income tax is paid on all of your income and there is no personal allowance.

For more information on what income tax you may need to pay take a look at our Tax Year Rates and Allowances booklet 


Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at pensions and tax.


Most people can earn some interest from their savings without paying tax.