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My wife stopped working in November 2014, and consequently we suspect she may have overpaid tax, and be able to reclaim from HMRC.

We've found the relevant form to fill in (here, linked from this HMRC page). All good.

On one of the later pages we found:

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Declaration Please choose one of the following options:

  • I am actively seeking employment and have been unemployed for four weeks or more and have not claimed any of the taxable benefits listed on page one.

  • I don't expect to go back to work (including part-time or casual employment) before the start of the new tax year on 6 April. I don't get a pension from my old employer and have not claimed any of the taxable benefits listed on page one.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Neither of these statements is true - she is not (currently) seeking work (nor has she been in the past 7 months). But she is expecting to start looking for work in the next couple of weeks and is expecting to get a part-time job in the next 10 months.

My instinct is to choose the first option, but it seems to be ridiculous to have a "choose one of these two options" question where the answers DON'T cover all the possibilities.

Does anyone have any comments or recommendations about answering this? Thanks!

  • Your basic problem is that the claim for a refund should have been made soon after she stopped work, i.e. in November 2014. The choice between options would then have made sense - either she was actively looking for work at the time she submitted the claim, or she wasn't! Your best option might be to use one of the help line options at gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/… to find out exactly what to do. – alephzero Mar 29 '17 at 13:37
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The tax year ran from 6th April 2014 - 5th April 2015. So it's now past the "start of the new tax year on 6 April", and the second statement seems perfectly correct to me, even if the tenses are a bit funny. You know for a fact that she hasn't gone back to work before then.

From what I understand of the purpose of this form, they are willing to repay tax during the tax year under certain circumstances, but they want to check that it's not too likely that you'll end up owing the tax again and that there won't be any complicated interaction with benefits.

Once the tax year is over, getting your overpaid tax back should always be possible because there's no possible ambiguity over what might happen in the rest of the tax year.

In fact, this page on the HMRC website may be provide a more appropriate procedure now the tax year has ended, in that it provides a simpler procedure for claiming a refund for previous tax years:

For a previous year

You can claim a tax refund for any of the previous 4 tax years.

  1. Check you’ve paid the right amount of tax.

  2. If you’ve paid too much tax, you can claim online. You’ll need your employer’s PAYE reference number - this is on your P60.

Alternatively if you fill in a tax return you'll automatically get a refund through that process, or you can write to HMRC directly.

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Your wife stopped working in November 2014. The tax year finished on 5th of April 2015. This form is now useless for you, because it is for people who try to get money back in that tax year, so that form would only have been useful before April.

However, it's not a problem at all. She'll get the overpaid tax back easily by filling out a normal tax return (Self Assessment) for the year 2014-2015 (that is April 2014 to April 2015) on the HMRC website. All she needs is fill in the numbers probably from her P45 (I assume she doesn't have a P60 because you get that at the end of the tax year if you are still employed), so the HMRC will know her income in 2014-2015, how much tax she paid, which is likely too much, and they will pay back the overpaid money.

For example, if you make £36,000 a year, there is about £10,000 tax free, and 20% tax on the remaining £26,000, that is £5,200 tax. Working for seven months, she would have made only £21,000 in that year, but would have paid 7/12ths of £5,200 or £3,033 in tax. The correct tax for £21,000 income a year is 0% of £10,000 plus 20% of £11,000 = £2,200, so she would get £833 back (the numbers are roughly right but not 100%; just to give you an idea).

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    Can you fill in a self assessment return if HMRC haven't told you to fill one in? I thought it has to be directed by them. – Ganesh Sittampalam May 24 '15 at 22:43
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    @GaneshSittampalam I have sorted out similar tax situations by ringing them up on the phone no need to fill out self assessment forms. You wife has been claiming JSA? which also keeps her NI contributions going? – Pepone May 25 '15 at 8:21
  • @GaneshSittampalam You don't need to make a self assessment return to reclaim overpaid tax. But if you think your tax situation has changed so that you need to make a self assessment, then you shouldn't wait until HMRC find out and tell you to do it, otherwise you will almost certainly end up paying the wrong amount of tax. See gov.uk/check-if-you-need-a-tax-return. – alephzero Mar 29 '17 at 13:27

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