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HMRC state pension confusion as expat struggles to top up National Insurance contributions

A man reached out to HMRC as he was struggling to use the online system to top up his National Insurance (NI) contributions for the state pension.

The frustrated man reached out to the tax authority over X to say: “Can’t change address online, keeps saying date is too early compared to record you have.

“I want to also fill gaps in my [state] pension but I left the UK in 2019 and it has me on the higher payments when I believe I should only be paying the Class 2 rate.”

Voluntary (NI) contributions to top up Class 3 contributions, for employees, are currently £17.45 a week, while Class 2 contributions for self-employed people are currently £3.45 a week.

HMRC responded to ask the man: ” Did you formally notify HMRC that you have left the UK by completing a P85?”

A UK taxpayer has to fill in the P85 tax form when they move abroad to keep their tax record up to date.

The document includes questions about income, tax and residency status so that your tax record can be updated.

The taxpayer said: “Pretty sure I did as have received mail here from HMRC in the past but for some reason my old address is showing.”

The HMRC offered a potential solution to the problem, saying: “Try entering today’s date to see if it allows you to bypass this error message and enable us to hold the correct address.”

Now is a good time to check if you can top up your contributions as there is currently an extended period over which a person can top up, as far back as the 2006/2007 tax year.

People can usually only buy contributions as far back as six years ago.

The full new state pension is currently £221.20 a week and a person typically needs 35 years of NI contributions to get the full amount.

You need at least 10 years of contributions to get any state pension payments.

The state pension age is currently 66 but this is increasing to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and then to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

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