The financial planning journal

High earner? Pay off your mortgage twice as fast

21 June 2021

A significant number of high earners overpay their mortgage but aren’t maxing out their pension contributions. Now, this could be the right decision in some circumstances but, if you stopped overpaying the mortgage and instead put the money into your pension, you could pay your mortgage off twice as fast! Unbelievable right?..

Well, let me take you through the numbers. As an illustration, we will use somebody earning £135,000 a year.

The 60% tax trap

Firstly, it’s important to remind you of the dreaded 60% tax trap. When an individual’s taxable income reaches £100,000, their tax-free personal allowance is gradually cut by £1 for every £2 of additional income. Once their income reaches £125,140 they lose their personal allowance entirely.

As a quick example: if you were to earn £1,000 over the £100,000 mark, it will be taxed at 40% costing you £400. However, you’ll also lose £500 of your personal allowance. To add insult to injury, that £500 will now also be taxed at 40%, costing you another £200. The additional £1,000 of income will cost you £600 in tax total – 60%!

How does this apply to paying off your mortgage?

Let’s now imagine that you have a mortgage of £250,000 and you pay £1,000 of your mortgage each month, or £12,000 a year. If, as in my example, you were earning £135,000, that £12,000 would cost you over £17,000 in tax before it’s even arrived in your bank account.

To break this down let’s take £29,358.62 of our high earner’s income:

It’s exhausting just listing all of that tax! In summary, your £12,000 annual mortgage payment will require almost £30,000 in income.

Taxable amount

Tax

Rate

Cost

£29,358.62

National Insurance

2%

£587.17

£25,140

Income tax

60%

£15,084

£4,218.62

Income Tax

40%

£1,687.45

Total tax paid

£17,358.62

Remaining

£12,000

 

So, to pay off your £250,000 mortgage, it will take almost 21 years and cost you over £600,000 of your hard-earned money!

Paying off your mortgage faster…

Now it’s time for the magic secret: if you, instead, took that same £29,358 a year and put it into your pension, that money will be gross of all tax. Not only that but you won’t fall into the 60% tax trap. Additionally, when you turn 55, you can take 25% of your pension completely tax-free. Depending on the size of your pension pot, you can take a maximum of, guess what… around £250,000.

So, if you’ve built up a decent pension, by the time you want to pay off your mortgage, you could use your pension tax-free lump sum to pay off the entire remaining amount.

By using your pension, you’ll pay off the mortgage in just over 8.5 years, and that’s without even investing the money. It’s likely you’ll be able to shave a further 1.5 years off this timeline when investment growth is added.

Overall, (get ready for this) you’d save over £360,000 in tax and pay off your mortgage over 13 years faster!

So, if you’re a high earner thinking about over-paying your mortgage, believe it or not, it might be time for you to take some pension advice.

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