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All of your tax refunds FAQs answered by our experts

These are the answers to all the questions we get asked most often. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for here, feel free to get in touch with one of our tax refund experts who will be happy to assist you.

General tax questions

These are the basic questions we get asked on a daily basis. If you’re not sure what a tax refund is, if you’re due a refund, how to claim it back or how long it’s going to take, you can find the answers here.

What is a tax refund?

A tax refund is a repayment of tax that you have overpaid during the tax year, as determined by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). It can also be referred to as a tax refund.

Who can claim a tax refund?

Anyone who has lived and worked in the UK may be eligible to claim for a tax refund.

Certain criteria do apply, however 97% of people are able to make a claim - even after they've left the UK.

How much can I claim back?

If you have earned less than your tax-free allowance, you will be able to claim back all of the tax you have paid (as an example, the tax-free allowance for the 2014/2015 tax year was £10,000).

If your earnings exceed the tax-free allowance, you are more than likely still due a tax rebate.

To calculate the refund due to you, use our online Tax Return Calculator or contact one of our professional tax refunds advisors for a free quote on +44 (0) 80 8141 5503.

When can I claim my tax back?

You can make a tax claim against a financial year for up to five years. You can also claim for the current tax year if you are leaving or have already left the UK.

Why would I have overpaid tax?

There are a number of reasons why you may have overpaid tax.

The most common are:

  • You have only worked for part of a tax year
  • You have worked for more than one employer in a tax year
  • You have had two or more jobs concurrently
  • You were taxed on a basic rate tax code

What do I need to claim tax back?

In order to claim a UK tax rebate, you will need to submit proof of your earnings and tax deductions for every employer that you have had in each tax year for which you are claiming.

You will need a P45 for each job you have had during the tax year and a P60 from the company that employed you at the end of the tax year. You should obtain these from your employer or agency. If any P45s or P60s have been lost, you will need to obtain a statement of earnings from your employer or agency as a substitute.

If you have worked under the CIS scheme, you will need to submit your statements of payment for each employment and each month as well as proof of any expenses that you would like to have deducted. We will assess these and let you know if any of these cannot be claimed.

Please note: HMRC does not accept payslips as proof of income and/or tax paid.

How do I get my refund?

When we receive the refund cheque issued by HMRC, we will bank it and transfer your refund (less our 15% fee) to your bank account almost anywhere in the world.

Our forex division facilitates over 100,000 international money transfers around the world every year. Our most popular destinations include South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, the Eurozone and the United States.

When is the financial year?

The financial year, commonly known as the tax year, runs from April 6 until April 5 the following year (for example, the 2016/2017 tax year ran from 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016).

Do I need a National Insurance number?

An National Insurance (NI) number is a reference number that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) uses to record where you have worked and what your earnings have been. You are obligated by law to get a permanent NI number once you start working in the UK.

Due to increased security at HMRC, it is now a firm requirement to obtain an NI number in order for your tax refund to be processed. If you have already left the UK, it is still advisable to apply for an NI number.

Our 1st Contact team can assist you in obtaining your NI number, please call us on +44 (0) 80 8141 1646 or email them at for further information.

How long does it take to get a tax refund?

Once you have provided us with your details and all your documentation, we will process and submit your claim to HMRC. We aim to finalise your claim within six to eight weeks, which allows for the average tax office postal backlog of six weeks.

Please note: that some claims may exceed the expected completion time due to the client not having a permanent NI number, providing incorrect or insufficient information and/or unavoidable delays caused by HMRC. Unfortunately, all correspondence with HMRC is done via telephone and post.

What is a Self Assessment tax return?

Self Assessment requires the mandatory submission of a tax return. This is an HMRC issued document, which requires you to declare your earnings and tax paid for a financial year.

Please note: Unlike a tax refund claim, a Self Assessment tax return is required by law from certain individuals.

Who needs to complete a Self Assessment tax return?

If you have more complicated tax affairs than the straight PAYE system, you may need to complete a tax return.

There are also certain circumstances in which you will always need to complete a tax return - for example if you're self-employed, a company director or a trustee, or if you have foreign income.

What if I have received benefits from my employer?

Any benefits received are taxable and you will need to obtain a P11D from your employer for each tax year that you received benefits. This form must be submitted along with your P45s and P60s.

If you have received any dividend income, you will need to submit a dividend certificate for the relevant tax year.

Can I claim my tax back when I am outside the country?

Yes, you can claim back any tax you may have overpaid, even if you have already left the country. But only as long as you submit a claim through Sable International within five years of leaving the UK, along with the necessary documents you will still be eligible.

What are our fees?

We have a no refund, no fee policy. If there is no refund due to you from HMRC, we won’t charge you any fees. We also have price-match policy - we will match any price quoted by another ATA-bonded company.

Our fees are 15% +VAT (subject to a £30 admin fee).

A minimum of £50 +VAT will be charged on all claims. VAT won’t be charged if you choose to have your refund deposited into a non-UK bank account.

If you choose to use 1st Contact to get your excess baggage home, the commission rate for your tax refund will drop to 10%.

Tax form FAQs

There are a variety of different tax codes and tax forms, which can make the whole process seem a lot more confusing than it needs to be. Fear not, we’ve got you covered. We explain the different tax forms and codes below.

What is a CIS tax rebate?

CIS stands for Construction Industry Scheme. Those working in the construction industry are issued with a CIS statement of payment at the end of each month and at the end of each contract. This is a certificate of pay showing your income and tax paid on those earnings.

What is a P45 document?

A P45 document is a certificate of your income indicating how much you earned and how much tax you paid on those earnings.

It is a blue, three-page form, which your employer will issue to you at the end of each employment.

Part 1A is to be kept by you for when you want to claim your tax back. The other parts are to be handed to your next employer. You will need to submit parts 1A, 2 and 3 of the P45 from your previous employer in the UK.

What is a P50 Document?

A P50 is a document you complete to claim a tax rebate if you have retired, become unemployed, become a student or have been made redundant and you won’t be working again until the end of the tax year.

If you stopped working part way through a tax year, you may be due a tax refund. All you need to do is to fill in a P50 form and send it to us with your P45 (all three parts). We will then receive your refund from the tax office and they will issue you with a new P45 if necessary.

Who can claim a tax refund on a P50 form?

If you have been working under PAYE, CIS or as self-employed you may qualify. If you are self-employed or in construction, you usually have to make “payments on account” in relation to next year’s tax bill. You may have paid too much, which would result in a refund.

What is a P60 Document?

A P60 document is a certificate of income issued to you at the end of the financial year indicating how much you have earned and how much tax you paid on those earnings.

What if I've lost my P45 or P60?

If you have lost your P45 or P60, you will need to contact your employer or agency and ask them to issue you with a statement of earnings as a substitute.

If you are unable to do this, we may be able to assist you. Subject to conditions, we may be able to follow up on a maximum of two outstanding documents at a cost of £20 + VAT per document.

In our experience, we have found that our clients have a higher rate of success getting this information from their employers and agencies. We would therefore advise all clients to try to obtain the documentation first before contacting us for assistance.

Please note: we cannot guarantee that outstanding documentation will be received, as employers and agencies are not legally obligated to issue statements of earnings.

HMRC may have your missing pay and tax details on record. Contact us to find out how to obtain this information

What is a P11D?

Your employer uses a P11D to tell HMRC about the value of any “benefits in kind” they've given you during the tax year.

This means benefits or expenses that effectively increase your income, like:

  • A company car
  • Private medical insurance

Tax codes and emergency tax

Your tax code relates to the tax-free allowance that has been allocated to you. For example, the code for the 2014/2015 tax year was 1000, which means that person had a tax-free allowance of £10,000.

If your tax code has "X", "M1" or "W1" in it then your tax is being calculated on your monthly or weekly earnings as opposed to an annual salary basis.

Another tax code is "BR". This indicates that no tax-free allowance has been given to you and basic rate tax is being charged.

These are forms of emergency tax that are usually charged if your employer is not sure how much you should be taxed. Tax codes are shown on pay slips, P45s and P60s.

You can claim back any tax you may have overpaid, even if you have already left the country.

As long as you submit a claim through 1st Contact Tax Refunds within five years of leaving the UK, along with the necessary documents, you will still be eligible.

Have a question we haven’t answered?

Give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7553 or pop us an email on
and we’ll be happy to assist you.

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Sable International is not affiliated with HMRC, we assist you in making your tax return.
Read about our tax refund service.

Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

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