Do I need to complete a tax return?

Updated on 18 November 2016

This section looks at whether or not you need to complete a tax return if you are employed.

Most employees working in the UK pay all their tax through their company’s payroll system and are not required to submit a tax return. You may, however, need to complete a tax return because your tax affairs are complicated in some way, for example by having a source of untaxed income.

You can find more detailed information on how self assessment and tax returns in our 'tax basics section'.

What is self assessment (SA)?

Self assessment is not a tax – it is a way of paying tax.

The idea of self assessment is that you are responsible for completing a tax return each year if you need to, and for paying any tax due for that tax year. It is your responsibility to tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if you think you need to complete a tax return.

If you complete a self assessment tax return, you include all your taxable income, and any capital gains. You also claim any tax allowances or reliefs that you are entitled to on the tax return.

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Do I need to complete an SA return?

Most people in the UK pay all their tax ‘at source’, for example, through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) if they are employed, and are not required to file a tax return. So self assessment does not affect everyone and you will normally only need to complete a form if your tax affairs are complicated in some way, or if you have untaxed income that cannot be taxed through your PAYE tax code.

There is more information on who needs to complete a tax return in the ‘tax basics section’.

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What do I do if I no longer need to complete an SA return?

We explain what to do if you think you no longer need to complete a self assessment tax return in the ‘tax basics section’.

If you are no longer within self assessment, but think you are due a tax refund, you may need to claim a repayment of tax each year. If you think this applies to you, take a look at the ‘How do I claim tax back?’ page in the ’tax basics section’ of this website.

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What if I have not completed a tax return previously?

We explain the deadline by which you need to notify HMRC if you think you need to complete a tax return and you are not already within self assessment in the ‘tax basics section’.

We also explain the deadlines for submission of tax returns and the special rules that apply according to the date when HMRC issue you with a tax return.

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What is a short tax return?

We explain what a short tax return is and help you work out whether or not you might be able to request one instead of the full self assessment tax return in the ‘tax basics section’.

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Where can I find more information?

You can find more information on self assessment in the ‘tax basics section’.

There is more information on who needs to complete a self assessment tax return on the GOV.UK website.

There is more information on how to reclaim tax if you do not need to complete a tax return in the 'tax basics section' of this website.

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