UK tax refunds for people leaving the UK or living overseas
If you have UK tax deducted at source in the tax year in which you leave the UK, you might be due a tax refund.
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If you have been taxed under the pay as you earn (PAYE) system in the tax year in which you leave the UK, then it is likely that you will be due a tax refund upon your departure from the UK.
This is because the personal allowance (£12,570 in 2023/24) is usually divided throughout the year so you receive a proportion each time you are paid. If you only work for part of the tax year or leave the UK part way through a tax year, you may not have received your entire tax-free allowance and may have paid too much tax.
This page discusses refunds of income tax. Refunds of National Insurance contributions (NIC) upon leaving the UK are not usually possible – see our page NIC in cross-border situations. We discuss separately VAT refunds when leaving the UK.
The form should also be used by HMRC to update your contact details.
When to submit
Generally, a form P85 is only appropriate if you are not required to file a self assessment tax return for your year of departure (and you do not intend to file one anyway).
A form P85 is usually appropriate where:
- you leave the UK and become non-resident in the UK, being eligible for split year treatment on your departure,
- you have had tax deducted at source on your pre-departure earnings in the tax year, and
- you do not expect to have any UK sourced income while living overseas.
However, the form may also be suitable in other circumstances. For example, even if you remain UK resident you may be due a tax refund in respect of your pre-departure earnings if you have no income for the rest of the tax year (up to 5 April). You could therefore use the form P85 to try and trigger HMRC to issue this refund without having to wait until the end of the tax year.
You should not normally complete a form P85 if HMRC have already asked you to file a tax return for your departure year (or if you have already completed one). An exception is where you will be working overseas for a UK based employer and you will not be liable to UK tax on your earnings. In this case, a form P85 may be necessary for HMRC to issue an NT (‘no tax’) tax code.
How to submit
The form is usually completed and submitted online, but it is also possible to print the completed online form and submit it by post. To make a submission, see GOV.UK.
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to download a blank form from GOV.UK.
If you do submit a form P85 to HMRC, you should keep a copy of the completed form. If you submit the form by post, do so by registered post and also keep a copy the relevant parts of the P45, if submitted.
If you are submitting form P85 in order to obtain an NT tax code (see above), you should print and post the form.
Form P85 asks information like:
- your most recent address in the UK,
- your contact address outside of the UK,
- the date you left the UK,
- the number of years you have lived in the UK,
- the number of days you expect to spend in the UK in each of the next three tax years,
- details of your overseas employment, if applicable,
- details of any employment duties you expect to carry out in the UK while overseas,
- if you have a UK employer while overseas, details of that employer, and
- details of sources of UK income while you are living abroad.
You will usually need your form P45 when filing form P85. Please be aware that an ex-employer will not be able to give you a replacement P45 if you lose the original. However, they should be able to provide a ‘statement of earnings’ on headed paper, which can be used as proof of tax deducted (if required) to claim a refund from HMRC.
Form P85 is not a legal requirement and therefore there is no deadline. However, if HMRC have not issued you with a tax return for your tax year of departure, you may need to notify HMRC that you owe tax for that year by 5 October following the end of the tax year.
Receiving the refund
If you are entitled to a refund upon submitting the form, HMRC will send a cheque in pound sterling to either you or a nominee. We understand HMRC no longer make refunds by bank transfer when a form P85 has been submitted.
You can provide a foreign address if you wish, but there may be delays in receiving the cheque overseas as there is no guarantee that HMRC will use the correct postage.
Note also that overseas banks can take some time to process a UK cheque, and the fees may be significant. If you wish to have the refund in your overseas account, you may instead choose to arrange for a nominee in the UK to receive the cheque who can then transfer the amount to that account.
If you do not submit a form P85 or a tax return
If you do not complete a form P85 or a self assessment tax return for your year of departure, but HMRC think you are due a refund from your PAYE records for the year, then they should issue a P800 tax calculation to the address they have on record for you.
Unlike refunds arising from the submission of a form P85, refunds on a form P800 can be paid by bank transfer.
If you receive a refund and then file a tax return
If you receive a refund after submitting form P85 or receiving a form P800 for the year, and you later complete a self assessment tax return for the year, you include the refund on that return so it is reflected in the tax calculation. The figure should appear in box 1 of page TR6 (Tax refunded or set off) on the paper version of the return.
Tax refund companies
Beware various companies offering to claim back tax refunds for you. Many of these companies may charge high fees for a service that you can do for yourself without any cost.
See our page on tax refund companies for more information.