How do I claim tax back?

Updated on 6 April 2023


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 (in other words, you do not complete a tax return), you can still claim back overpaid tax. We set out the different methods briefly below.

Illustration of people surrounded by a text refund sign

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.

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 GOV.UK.

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.

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 receiving 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 end of the tax year. There is information on how to do this in the employment section.

How do I claim tax relief 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 business expenses incurred 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 (in other words, they reimburse you), you cannot claim tax relief.

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

The form on which to make the claim (form P87) is on GOV.UK. We publish a guide on how to complete the form in our Resources section.

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 usually send form P85 ‘Leaving the UK – getting your tax right’ to HMRC. You can find the form on GOV.UK. Alternatively, you can make a claim online. The form 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 method. If you are entitled to a repayment of income tax, HMRC will send it to you by post or by bank transfer. For more information on tax when leaving the UK, go to GOV.UK.

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.

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 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.

How do I claim back overpaid tax on savings income?

Since 6 April 2016, 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.

By exception, some other types of interest and savings income continue to have tax deducted at source at 20% such as the interest element of PPI compensation payouts.

It is not normally possible to claim back tax on savings income earned prior to 6 April 2016, because the deadline for doing so has now passed. More information about this is available on our page How do I claim back tax on savings income?.

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.

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 National Insurance contributions (NIC), for example you had a certificate A1 showing you are exempt from NIC under EC rules or the new UK-EU protocol on social security co-ordination, but your UK employer deducted NIC anyway. We explain other reasons why you might overpay NIC in the tax basics section.

However, NIC is calculated and paid for each pay period and not recalculated against annual thresholds, as is the case for income tax. For this reason, it is relatively rare to have overpaid NIC, whereas overpayments of income tax are relatively common.

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 GOV.UK.

You cannot claim a refund of NIC simply because you stop work or do not work for the whole tax year. Nor can you claim a refund of NIC simply because you are leaving the UK to live in another country. For more information visit the pages on National Insurance for migrants.

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. What should I do?

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 may be 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 been 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.

Alternatively, you can call or write to HMRC and ask them for an update.

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