From benefits to the state pension, a lot of us rely on the government for at least part of our income. There’s also tax to think about: most of us are obliged to pay money back to the state. What you may not know is that the government has developed a handy online tool to make it much easier to understand all these official incomings and outgoings. The government gateway was launched all the way back in 2001, but it’s still a really helpful tool for any body looking to understand certain parts of their finances better.
Find out how much pension you’re entitled to
The state pension summary gives you a forecast of how much you would be entitled to receive under current regulations, as well as your retirement year. If your pension is still a long way off then these figures are subject to change, as any policy reviews made by future governments may see both the age and Pension income reviewed. However, it’s a good indicator and particularly helpful for those who are getting closer to retirement.
See whether you’ve made enough national insurance contributions
The amount of state pension that you receive is determined by your national insurance record, and the government gateway lets you check if that record is up to date. You need to have paid in for ten full years to qualify for a reduced pension, and a minimum of 35 years to qualify for the full amount. The national insurance record shows you how many years’ worth of payment you already have, as well as how many years you have left to make up the remaining payments.
If you’re worried about a shortfall because you don’t have enough time left, then it’s possible to make voluntary contributions and bring your record up to date.
Check your tax code for previous years
More concerned about paying too much tax than too little? That’s understandable, and can be checked quickly through the income tax overview section of your account. Just click ‘check previous tax years’, and you’ll be able to see how much taxable income you received each year. The key thing is to check the tax code. If you see the letters W1, M1 our X as part of your code then that’s a sign that you were paying the emergency rate and may need to query it. If you think any of your employment information is incorrect, then use this section of your account to correct it.
View benefit payments and update your information
There are three types of benefit covered by the government gateway: tax credits, marriage allowance and child benefit. Although you can’t make a tax credit claim through your account, those already claiming are able to manage the claim online, including adding new people. Crucially, you can also see when your next payment is due, which makes it easier to manage your budget. For cold benefit and marriage allowance, you can use the government gateway to tell the government more about your circumstances – for instance if your child is staying in full time education – to ensure that you receive the correct payments.