If you have paid too much tax, you will understandably want to claim a refund as soon as possible. There are different ways to do this, depending on how you are taxed and which year you want a tax refund for.
Refunds for the current tax year
If you are an employee taxed using PAYE, paying too much tax generally means that your tax code is not up to date and needs changing.
You should check your personal tax account to see what your code is. You can also use this to tell HMRC about any changes that affect it, such as professional fees and regular work expenses that you do not get reimbursed by your employer. Once your tax code has been adjusted, any overpaid tax is refunded in the pay you get from your employer.
Overpaying can also happen, for example, when you have a new job and you are put on an emergency tax code. Once, however you have given your employer the information they need about your previous income, for example a P45, your tax code is then updated.
There is a different system if you are self-employed and pay tax through self-assessment. The tax payments you make include two payments on account, made in January and July, based on your tax bill for the previous year. If your income falls – for example, because your business becomes less profitable – these payments on account might well be too high.
You can ask HMRC to reduce your payments on account if you know your tax bill is going to be lower. But if that means you end up paying less than you need to, you will be charged interest on the underpayment.
Tax refunds for the previous year
If you are only paid through PAYE, HMRC should tell you if they think you have paid too much tax. They do this by sending you a P800. This gives details of your income, the tax you should have paid, and any overpayment or underpayment.
If you have not received a P800, you can again check your personal tax account online to get the information that you need.
Check whether the information in HMRC's tax calculation matches your own records. If it is wrong, contact HMRC (0300 200 3300). If they agree with you, they will update their records and send you a P800.
If you have paid too much tax, the P800 tells you how to get your tax refund. You will either get a cheque automatically or need to make a claim online.
If you use self-assessment, HMRC does not send out a P800. Instead, HMRC should refund you automatically. If not, either request a repayment through your online tax account or contact HMRC.
Claims for earlier tax years
If you think you may have overpaid in an earlier year, your first step is to check what you paid and how much you think your tax bill should have been.
If you use tax return software, this should have details of all your income and a calculation of how much tax is due.
If your affairs are a little more complication, you can also ask an accountant to review your financial records and assess what your tax bill should be and then act as your tax agent. An expert can give you face-to-face advice and check whether you are missing any opportunities to reduce the tax that you pay.
If you think you are due a refund, contact HMRC either through your online account or by phone. You must make your claim within four years from the end of the tax year that you want a refund for.
If you think you might be entitled to a tax refund for other kinds of income (for example, pension or redundancy payments), use HMRC's claim a tax refund service to find out how.
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