Survey Reveals 41% of People Are Not Aware About Their Tax Refund

With the cost of living set to increase in the coming months, research by tax refund experts, RIFT Tax Refunds, reveals that many people do not realise that they could be entitled to a tax refund even if they are paid via PAYE, and are therefore missing out on nearly £1,000 in the pocket a year.

According to a survey commissioned by RIFT Tax Refunds, 41% of people do not realise that they could be entitled to a tax refund, even if paid via PAYE, instead of assuming such refunds are for self-employed workers only.

Furthermore, 53% of people are unaware that they have up to four years to claim their refund from the end of each tax year. Previous research from RIFT reveals that this means the average applicant is missing out on £2,500 in refunds for an initial four year claim and a further £929 per annum after that.

One key reason for people not being aware of this is that 60% have never actually applied for a tax refund and have never had reason to learn about how tax refunds work. A tax refund is an amount of money that can be claimed back from HMRC if a person has paid more tax than they owe in any given tax year.

There are  myriad of reasons why one could be owed, but the most common include:

Tax code issues  

Your tax code is assigned to you to help the government decide how much income tax you must pay. However, they can change depending on their income and employment situation. Sometimes, these changes are not recorded properly, so people continue paying a larger tax than their income dictates. This can happen due to a job change, a change in role, or moving from self-employment to PAYE and vice versa.

Private pensions and redundancy payments

With income-related private pensions, it’s not uncommon for people to be overcharged for tax, an error that can go unnoticed if a refund application isn’t submitted. Similarly, tax is often overpaid on redundancy payments.


An annuity is a financial product that pays out a fixed stream of payments to an individual, primarily used as an income stream for retirees. If a person’s annual income is below their allowance, they should not be taxed, but sometimes they still are.

Income from abroad

When UK taxpayers earn money overseas, it creates tax complications that easily result in an overpayment.

The most common things that one would receive a tax refund for include travel costs related to employment; accommodation and food costs related to employment; uniform and tools purchases that are essential to a job; professional fees such as membership to professional bodies or groups, including trade unions; costs related to working from home, especially relevant in the pandemic era; and fuel allowances for which a person can claim mileage when they are required to drive their car for their job.

To process a tax refund claim, a person must only provide wage slips and income statements for the tax year in question and proof of ID.

However, to help the process along and perhaps receive an accurate refund more quickly, it’s helpful also to provide a P60 end of year certificate; any relevant P45 forms, MOT certificates if applying for mileage refunds, total receipts of all work-related expenses, and a contract of employment.

CEO of RIFT Tax Refunds, Bradley Post, commented: ‘People can work for decades and not realise that they could be entitled to a tax refund from HMRC, mostly because they believe such refunds are reserved for business owners the self-employed. But this isn’t the case and, as such, far too many workers are missing out on potentially thousands of pounds each year.’

‘With the cost of living set to spike over the coming year and possibly beyond, not to mention the extra hardships caused for many by the Covid-19 pandemic, this extra cash could make all the difference to people and families across the nation.’