I've received a letter from my pension provider that I've gone over the annual allowance for pension contributions this year. According to HMRC, I can carry over unused allowance for the past 3 years, and they recommend using their Pension Allowance Calculator to work this out.

When I try and use the calculator, it's asking me which years I was a member of a workplace pension, going back to 2010. It then asks me, for each year, what my contributions were.

The trouble I have is:

  • I don't have copies of my payslips going back that far (these were paper payslips at the time, and I didn't think I'd need to retain these for 11 years!)
  • Old P60s don't seem to list pension contributions (I assume because it's salary sacrifice)
  • I've amalgamated old workplace pensions into one (as I had about 6 of them), so if I look online I can just see the date that the lump-sum was transferred into the new provider, not the historic details.

Is there an easy way to get this info that HMRC needs? I've tried logging into Government Gateway and checking my personal tax account, but can't find any details of private pension contributions (only e.g. National Insurance payments)

Or can I just go back 3 years (since that's all that I'm eligible to carry over anyway?)

  • I don't know if such a way exists. So you have the last 3 years worth of information? But not further back? Aug 11, 2021 at 8:44
  • @marktristan, yes I should have for the last 3 years alright — I have access to my pension account for those years so I can see the regular payments that were made. I guess I was thrown by HMRC's question of "Select the years you were a member of a registered pension scheme" rather than e.g. "Select the years you wish to claim carry forward allowance against". Didn't want to provide partial info if full info was required Aug 11, 2021 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


Someone would have to do some experiments with the calculator to be sure, but I think the reason it asks for the details going back to 2010 is that it wants to tell you about whether you went over the allowance in past years too.

Anything more than the previous three years shouldn't have any significance for what you owe for this tax year: either you had allowance spare for those years or you didn't, purely based on the contributions you made in those years and whether you were in a pension scheme or not (if you weren't you don't get any allowance to carry forward even though you didn't use it).

Since carry-forward is only used after you fill up a particular year's allowance, even if you had allowance to carry forward from e.g. 2016, it can't affect how much you have to carry forward from e.g. 2019.

Also the calculator itself is just for information/guidance, the inputs won't be recorded in your tax return itself. Of course putting in the correct data will help you be confident that your conclusions are accurate, but you don't need to worry that you're "lying" to HMRC just because of what you put in there.

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