Pensions At Acorn Life

Due to increased life expectancy you can look forward to spending up to a third of your life in retirement but you may not relish the idea of living on the State Pension. Pension Plans are simply savings plans (with tax benefits) to help make your retirement years more comfortable - you invest your money into a pension, the pension grows, and you use the money you have built up to keep you going when you retire.

The age profile of our population is getting older, meaning less money will be available in the future, as more people will be retiring and fewer people working. This is why the government encourages everyone to save for their retirement by offering tax benefits. Pension Plans can provide tax benefits that may lower your current taxable income, and enable you to build assets for your retirement. Contributions to a retirement plan may be tax deductible - thus lowering your current taxable income.

(Age Profile Source : Health in Ireland Key Trends 2022 report)

A glossary of pension related terms may be accessed here

Acorn Life's Pension Plans

Acorn Life's Pension Plans presents you with the opportunity to make one of the wisest investment decisions you will ever make. There is no simpler, easier, or more tax-efficient way of saving money for your retirement.

You can claim income tax relief on your pension contributions up to certain limits. And if your retirement fund grows, the growth is also tax-free. When you retire, you can - subject to certain limits - take a retirement lump sum, some of which may be tax-free.

Acorn Life’s Pension Plans ensure that when retirement comes, you can enjoy the benefits of financial independence. Not only that, but we have designed our pension plans to change as your needs change, so you can adequately provide for your pension.


Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA)

A PRSA is a personally owned pension that lets you save for retirement on your own terms. It allows you to invest your savings for retirement in various investment funds that are available through your policy. 

This is a retirement savings product that is aimed at employers, employees and the self-employed.

PRSAs are flexible; you can increase, decrease, or stop your contributions at any time without any charge or penalty. PRSAs are portable; you can carry your PRSA from job to job or transfer it to another PRSA provider without any charge or penalty.

Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)

AVCs can make a big difference to your fund at retirement, which will impact your retirement income. Through a PRSA AVC or as a member of your employer’s pension scheme, you can make ‘top-up’ contributions to help boost your income in retirement.

Considerations on taking out a PRSA AVC

Your projected retirement income: As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that you aim for a pension of two thirds (66%) of your final salary at retirement. You may need to contribute more to your pension now to achieve this level.

Your Occupational or PRSA AVC pension: You and/or your employer may contribute to an occupational pension. This is a great first step toward building a retirement fund. The fund size will depend on the level of contributions, term to retirement and investment returns.

If you are a member of an existing occupational pension, it’s worth checking if this will provide for your required retirement income. Once you know, you can decide whether to take out a PRSA AVC to supplement your retirement income.

A PRSA AVC is an way of supplementing your retirement income, where your occupational pension alone may not provide the level of income you require. You may also benefit from tax relief on contributions subject to Revenue Limits.

Executive Pension Plan*

An Acorn Life executive pension is designed to help employees, company owners or company directors in small to medium-sized companies save for their retirement. Both employees and employers can avail of tax relief on their contributions. Your employer makes contributions towards your pension.

*Due to legislative changes that came into effect in 2022, Acorn Life does not currently sell new Executive Pension plans.

If you would like to know more about any of Acorn Life Pension Plans or PRSA AVCs above, please click here.

Please note that all information provided on this website, including tax- related amounts, rates and limits, is based on Acorn Life understanding and is in accordance with Irish legislation and Revenue rules as at August 2023 and may change in the future.

Your Financial Advisor can answer any questions that you may have and can also assist you and your company’s employees in optimising your savings and investments as you progress towards retirement.


Your Questions Answered

Here you will find the information you need about pension provision so that you can confidently make your decision

What type of pension plan is most suitable for me?

Your most suitable pension plan will depend on your present and future employment details. 

For tailored pension advice on what type of pension suits your needs, we suggest speaking with an Acorn Life Financial Advisor.

If you would like to arrange this, please click here

What is a contribution and how much should I be contributing?

You should consider increasing the amount of contributions each year to help offset inflation where necessary. As a general rule of thumb you should aim for an income in retirement of between 50% and 66% of your final salary, your contributions should be sufficient to enable you to retire on a total income, including state pension.

Most people underestimate how much they'll need to save to provide an adequate income when they retire. The earlier you start to save, the greater potential for reaching your income in retirement goals. It's never too late to start your pension, but it's so much easier when you start early.

If you would like to know more about what income to aim for in retirement, please click here

What does the Government provide?

You should get the State Pension (Contributory) as well as your own private pension when you retire provided you have made the required number of PRSI contributions throughout your working life. If you do not have the required number of PRSI contributions you may be entitled to the State Pension (Non-Contributory), which is a means-tested payment. The earliest age at which you may qualify for a State Pension is currently 66. 


How does Tax Relief Work?

By contributing to a pension plan, you can reduce the tax you pay and instead invest it for your retirement. If you have a non-employer PRSA, you pay the full contribution and then claim back the tax relief in your annual return. If you have an Executive Pension Plan or an employer-sponsored PRSA, you pay the net cost from your salary, and the government's tax relief automatically makes up the difference.

If you start a PRSA, you will receive a PRSA certificate shortly after your plan starts, which may be provided to your tax inspector if required. If you are self-employed, send this certificate in with your annual returns, and your tax bill will be reduced for you For Executive Pension Plans or an employer-sponsored PRSA, tax relief is given to you through the PAYE system. You should seek independent tax advice where necessary.

Tax relief is granted on pension contributions at the top rate of income tax that applies to you. The following table illustrates the effects of tax relief on monthly contributions:


Standard Tax Rate: 20%

Marginal Tax Rate: 40%

Gross monthly contribution



Tax relief:



Net Cost to you:



Source - (August 2023)

What are the tax relief limits for pension contributions?

The tax relief limits for Personal Executive Pension or PRSA contributions are detailed in the following table:

Age attained during tax year

Limit (% of Net Relevant Earnings)

Under 30


30 - 39


40 - 49


50 - 54


55 - 59


60 +


Source - (August 2023)

Net relevant earnings for tax relief purposes are currently subject to an earnings limit of €115,000 per annum from all employments. Any investment growth will accumulate tax free until you decide to take your retirement benefits. For personal pensions contributions, there is no maximum contribution that can be paid, but you may only claim tax relief on them each year within the above limits. (Source - August 2023)



What are the Government doing to help encourage private pension provision?

In the 1999, 2000 and 2011 Finance Acts the Minister for Finance made some significant changes to pension legislation which allowed self-employed people and members of company (occupational) pension schemes to retain control of their funds when they retire.

Previously, after taking a lump sum, the balance of the proceeds of personal and defined contribution pension plans had to generally be used to buy a pension for life in the form of an annuity from a life assurance company.

Now people retiring can opt to take the remainder as as a taxable lump sum (less a tax charge) in certain circumstances, or to leave their fund invested in an Approved Retirement Fund from which they can withdraw income as they require. Approved Retirement Funds can be passed to your estate on death. The flexibility which these options provide is another advantage for taking out a pension plan.

At retirement, part of your fund is payable free of tax subject to limits and the remainder is taxed as income.

What income should I be aiming for in Retirement?

The amount of income you will need in your retirement will depend on your personal circumstances when you retire. General rule of thumb is two thirds of final income (66%) including state pension.

It is often suggested that your need for regular income will reduce on retirement. This argument is based on the assumption that your mortgage should be paid off, your children should have left home and you will not face commuting or similar travelling expenses.

On the other hand, there will still be bills to pay. You should not be forced into a lower standard of life just because you are no longer working. Retirement means you have all the time in the world, with proper pension provision you can make the most of this time.

What are my options in taking retirement benefits?

When you reach retirement age, you are entitled to take 25% of your pension fund as a lump sum. Regarding the balance of your pension fund, the following options are open to you:

  • Buy an annuity with a life company. The annuity will provide you with an income for life
  • The balance may be taken as a taxable lump sum subject to income tax and government levies.
  • Move the balance of your fund to an Approved Retirement Fund.
  • For PRSAs only, you can leave your remaining fund invested in the PRSA until you reach age 75. Once the retirement lump sum is taken, your PRSA will then be known as a “Vested PRSA”.


If you are a member of an occupational pension scheme you may alternatively take a retirement lump sum that is dependent on your salary and your years of service (subject to pension scheme and Revenue rules). If this option is taken, the remainder of your fund must generally be used to purchase an annuity.

Note: tax free lump sums are subject to a lifetime of limit of €200,000 as per the Finance Act 2011. This means that lump sums in excess of €200,000 are subject to tax. (Source - August 2023)

Why you should avail of an Acorn Life Pension Plan
  • You receive tax relief on your total contributions and your fund accumulates free of all taxes.
  • At Acorn Life we offer many different funds to meet your investment needs and appetite for risk. Our funds are managed on our behalf by global, established and professional fund managers. The factsheets for each of our investment funds provide details such as suitability, fund objective, asset allocations and risk levels. To view the factsheets please click here.
  • Your benefits and contributions are protected against inflation where indexing is applied.
  • You can make additional contributions to your fund. Additional contributions can be made either as regular or one-off additions at any time.
  • You can transfer between funds.
  • You can switch funds under your pension when your circumstances change. You can start your retirement by taking up to 25% of your total fund as a lump sum.
  • You can change jobs without affecting your plan Your Pension Plan is controlled by you.
  • You have flexibility in deciding when you want to retire. (subject to Revenue Rules)
  • Your pension is your future. Your Pension Plan from Acorn Life ensures that when the time comes you can enjoy the benefits of financial independence.


Important: Please note that the above are only brief summaries of the features of Acorn Life Pension Plans. The full terms and conditions are set out in the relevant Policy Provisions. Some of the charges on certain regular contribution pension products are not applied uniformly throughout the life of the product but are deducted in the early years. If you withdraw from the policy in the early years the surrender value, if any, is likely to remain below the level of contributions paid into the policy. 

For a summary of our Fees and Charges please click here.

Warning: The value of your investment may go down as well as up.
Warning: If you invest in this product you may lose some or all of the money you invest.

Warning: This product may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.


Warning: If you invest in this product, you will not have access to your money until age 60 and/or you retire.


Warning: The income you get from this investment may go down as well as up.