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I currently live in the UK, after I graduated with a Bachelor's degree a few weeks ago.

Both this summer and the previous summer I have been employed by the university as a Research Assistant. The first paycheck from this summer arrived and is less than expected (well, I haven't seen the actual paycheck, I just saw less money than expected in my account). The difference seems consistent with the income tax I should pay.

I am aware that at the end of the financial year, HMRC can send tax return letters if one has not earned enough in the past year to get to an upper band but has been taxed for it.

The question is: is there any way to check I have been taxed during the last summer and ask for a refund? Also, if I am taxed this year, is there any way to ask for the taxes back, considering I will leave the UK after the current contract ends (end of August)?

  • For the work last summer, you should, I think, have got a P60 showing total income and tax paid: probably shortly after the end of the tax year this April. You should also have got a payslip for this summer, showing your tax-code and if tax was deducted. – TripeHound Jul 30 '18 at 15:24
  • I am a UK resident, and I used to work as a permanent employee for 3 years, when I changed jobs, they assigned a wrong tax code, not sure if it was HRMC or the HR department of the new company I had been hired in. I had to make a few phone calls and send a letter to HRMC to sort things out. If I was you I would check which tax code applies to you. It might be a mistake, or you might mistakenly assume your tax to be lower than it really is. For seasonal workers, the tax code is different than for the residents from what I remember. – matewilk Aug 1 '18 at 20:34
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My experiance (back in 2009, so things may or may not have changed):

It is very likely that you will be over-taxed if you work for only part of a year. In principle if the right paperwork is filed you should be taxed based on "year to date", but in practice you don't always have the right paperwork and end up getting taxed based on the current pay period in isolation. Even in the former case you can still end up over-paying if you stop working during the tax year.

You should receive payslips for each pay period detailing any deductions (tax, NI, student loan, pension etc) and also a P45 or P60 giving the totals for that employer and tax year. You should therefore be able to find out how much tax has been paid and compare it with your own calculations of how much tax you should have paid.

If you fill out tax returns then everything will be squared up at tax return time but most UK workers do not have to fill out tax returns.

I couldn't seem to find a form for dealing with the situation where someone who does not fill out tax returns has been over-taxed, so I simply wrote a letter to HMRC after the end of the tax year outlining what I had earned, what tax I had paid and what tax I believed was due for the year and asking them to confirm my calculations and refund any over-paid tax. This seemed to work, I got my refund (my memory is a little hazy on exactly how I got the refund, I think they sent a cheque but i'm not 100% sure on that).

If you are leaving the UK I would suggest you keep your UK bank account open at least until this stuff is squared up.

P.S. afaict national insurance for employees is assesed on a per-pay period basis, so unlike income tax there isn't usually a refund to be had for that.

  • "I simply wrote a letter to HMRC". Wow... :) – RonJohn Jul 31 '18 at 16:37
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    Yep, a letter works and you don't even have to provide very much detail (just total earned and total tax paid - both of which should be on your P60). They'll recalculate your total liability and send you a refund check (if you overpaid). I had to do this pretty much every year when I was a student. – CactusCake Jul 31 '18 at 18:23

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