We all know there will come a time when we will no longer be able to work and we will need to have resources to fall back upon in our later years. Traditionally, Government policy has been to encourage such saving by giving tax relief to long term savers providing for their retirement. The Government has launched a flurry of attacks on pensions and pension benefits.
The State Old Age Pension age has been increased from 65 to 68 for those who will retire in 2028. Eligibility for a State pension is changing which means the pension paid to you will be directly proportionate to the number of social insurance contributions and/or credits you have made over your working life.
Private pension funds were levied with an annual charge of 0.6% for a four year period that is expected to raise €1.75 billion for the Government and will reduce pension pots by that amount.
The making it up as you go along approach by Government has seriously damaged confidence in those who wish to plan long term for their retirement.
However, the population continues to age as more and more people are living longer. Recent research concludes that the reasons for this are better diagnostics and improvements in medication, medical procedures and treatments; better lifestyle, nutrition and exercise and a reduction in smoking.
Unfortunately, longevity does not appear to be evenly spread throughout the population as newer studies show that it is the more affluent who on average, continue to live longer due to their ability to access healthcare and their willingness to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
With the State pension benefits being reduced and people living longer, it is logical that people still need to provide for their own retirement. That is particularly true for those on higher income paying the higher rate of income tax.
Ironically, increased tax measures, such as higher DIRT and Capital Gains Tax now act as a greater incentive for people to wrap their retirement savings in a pension plan wrapper, which allows tax-free growth.