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posted on August 19, 2017
Paying voluntary NICs (national insurance contributions) can make a difference to your entitlement to your state retirement pension and certain other state benefits. There are various reasons as to why gaps may arise in your NIC record – you may have had low earnings for several years, been living abroad, or been unemployed and have not been claiming benefits. In certain circumstances therefore, it may be possible, and beneficial, to pay voluntary NICs as Class 3 National Insurance Contributions.
You can also receive national insurance credits if you are unable to work, entitled to certain benefits, or in other specific circumstances, such as being on an approved training course or attending jury service, as well as being able to cover gaps in your NIC record someone if you care for a child, a sick or disabled person.
Paying voluntary NICs is possible for any tax year you are aged over 16 and are:
The rate for class 3 NICs is £14.25 per week in the current tax year (2017/18) and you need to make good any shortfall within six years of the year you want to add the contributions to. If you are self-employed you may be exempt from paying Class 2 NICs because your income is below the small profits threshold (£6,025 for 2017/18), but you can still pay voluntary Class 2 contributions to maintain your NIC record. These are much lower than Class 3 contributions (the rate for 2017/18 is £2.85 per week) and they protect entitlement to more benefits. But, beware, class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018, so it may be worth checking NIC records before then.
If you are planning on paying voluntary NICs then the HMRC website will show you how to go about it.