How do I claim tax back?

Updated on 2 April 2018

If you overpay tax and you complete a tax return, HMRC will send you a repayment once they have processed your tax return. If you are not within self assessment (i.e. you do not complete a tax return), you can still claim back overpaid tax. We set out the different methods briefly below.

If you overpay tax and you complete a tax return, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will send you a repayment once they have processed your tax return. If you are not within self assessment, (you do not complete a tax return), you can still claim back overpaid tax. We set out the different methods below.

How do I claim back overpaid tax on employment income?

If you receive employment income and pay tax through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system you may sometimes pay too much tax. There are various reasons for this. Often it will be because you have not used all your personal allowance. You can find a list of typical reasons for an overpayment of income tax arising on employment income in the 'tax basics section' of this website.

If you have paid too much tax through your employment, HMRC will try to reconcile your tax refund position themselves at the end of a tax year (although they have been known to get their sums wrong – so check the calculation carefully).

They may issue what is known as a P800 calculation and/or a cheque in GBP – this will be to the last UK address that they have on record for you. You may also have the option of receiving your refund directly into your bank account.

It is very important that you keep HMRC up to date with your contact/correspondence details. You can advise HMRC of a change of address in many different ways – there are more details on the GOV.UK website.

If you do not hear from HMRC after the end of the tax year and think you are due a refund, you can find information on what to do in the 'tax basics section'.

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How do I claim back overpaid tax if I stop work part way through the year?

If you stop working part way through the tax year, and you will not be working again (or claiming any taxable benefits) before the end of the tax year, you may be able to claim back some of the income tax that you have paid without having to wait until the tax year end. There is information on how to do this in the 'employed section' of this website.

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How do I claim back tax on my employment expenses?

There are a number of reliefs you might be able to claim to reduce the tax bill on your employment income. These include some business expenses, if you incur them wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the employment.

Records and evidence must be kept of any such expenditure.

If your employer pays you back for your employment expenses (reimburses you), you cannot claim tax relief.

You can find further information about eligible employment expenses in the 'employed section'.

The form on which to make the claim (form P87) is on the GOV.UK website. There is a guide on how to complete the form in the 'useful tools section' of this website.

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How do I claim back overpaid tax if I leave the UK?

If you leave the UK to live or work abroad, you may be able to claim back some of the income tax that you have paid.

When you leave the UK you must send form P85 Leaving the UK – getting your tax right to HMRC. You can find the form on the GOV.UK website. Alternatively, you can make a claim online. This starts the process of taking you out of the UK system. It also allows you to claim a refund of income tax, if you are owed one. You must send parts 2 and 3 of your P45 together with form P85 to HMRC. Keep a copy of both the completed form P85 and the P45 parts 2 and 3, and send the letter by registered post or similar. If you are entitled to a repayment of income tax, HMRC will send it to you by post. For more information on tax when leaving the UK, go to the GOV.UK website.

Sometimes if your tax affairs are complicated – for example, if you will continue to receive UK income after your departure, or you are self-employed – you will need to complete a tax return for your year of departure instead of (or as well as) completing a form P85. If you are unsure as to what to do, the best thing to do is call HMRC and advise them of your circumstances in order that they can confirm what, if anything, they want from you.

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How do I claim back overpaid tax on pension income?

If you receive pension income and pay tax on it under the PAYE system, you may sometimes overpay tax. There are various reasons for this, and the 'tax basics section' of this website provides a list of typical situations that can lead to someone overpaying tax on their pension. That section also gives information on how to claim on tax overpaid on pension income.

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How do I claim back overpaid tax on savings income?

6 April 2016 onwards

From 6 April 2016 onwards, banks and building societies must pay you your interest gross. This means that they do not deduct any income tax from it before you get it.

Some other types of interest and savings income continue to have tax deducted at source at 20%.

If such a tax at source deduction turns out to be excessive, you may be able to claim the tax back. More information about this is available on our page ‘how do I claim back tax on savings income?

Up to 6 April 2016

Prior to 6 April 2016, tax was automatically taken off bank and building society interest at 20%. 

There is more information in the 'tax basics section' of this website.

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What are the time limits for claiming back tax?

The time limits for claiming back overpaid tax are set out in the 'tax basics section'.

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Is it ever possible to claim a refund of overpaid or incorrectly paid National Insurance contributions?

There are a limited number of circumstances when you might overpay NIC, for example you had a certificate A1 but your UK employer did not apply it. We explain other reasons why you might overpay NIC in the 'tax basics section' of this website.

If you overpay NIC or pay NIC incorrectly, you can claim a refund.

There is a tool to help you to claim a refund of NIC on the GOV.UK website.

You cannot claim a refund of NIC simply because you stop work or do not work for the whole tax year. Neither can you claim a refund of NIC simply because you are leaving the UK to live in another country. For more information visit the 'National Insurance for migrants section'.

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I have filed my tax return and am due a refund. I thought they were paid automatically but I still have not received my money?

Sometimes, your self assessment tax refund can take weeks or months to arrive – even if you have submitted your tax return online with your bank details included.

This is because repayments can be subject to ‘security checks’ before they are issued. During a security check HMRC will do things like verify that the identity of the taxpayer and bank account holder match. This may particularly be the case for Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) tax refunds, which are often quite large.

Sometimes, repayment notices are issued saying the repayment is being made into the designated bank account and the repayment is held back at the last minute for ‘security checks’ – without anyone being told. This means that the repayment can be shown as having being made on your online account even when it has not.

In this situation, there are a few things you can do to try and speed up your tax refund.

You can log into your online account via GOV.UK and from ‘Your tax account’, go to ’Self Assessment overview’. Choose ‘Request a repayment’ from the left-hand menu and then follow the instructions to request a repayment.

You can call or write to HMRC and ask them for an update. 

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