SELF-ASSESSMENT - 03.10.2023

HMRC tips for prompt tax refunds

HMRC has published new guidance about why refunds are sometimes not issued, and if they aren’t how you can speed up the process. What’s the full story?

Repayment stats. The self-assessment deadline for 2022/23 is in sight. With it HMRC faces a wave of claims for tax refunds. Statistics show that 90% of these are made “without delay” but HMRC acknowledges that thousands of refunds take longer, which is often a cause of frustration for taxpayers. In an attempt to defuse this situation, a recent HMRC statement explains what steps you should take to ensure you receive your refund on time and in what circumstances it won’t pay up.

No refund. If you’ve submitted your 2022/23 self-assessment return and it shows you’ve overpaid tax, a refund is usually processed automatically. However, HMRC’s system flags taxpayer records to withhold refunds in various situations (see The next step ). This might be because a manual intervention by HMRC staff is needed or that the refund will be withheld for a longer term, e.g. where you have an existing tax debt.

Note. Surprisingly, one situation that requires manual intervention by HMRC staff, and so will delay your refund, is where you have indicated that correspondence should be in Welsh.

Dos and don’ts. Here are HMRC’s top tips for avoiding delays to self-assessment refunds :

  • don’t send in voluntary tax returns as a means of claiming a refund. Instead, register for assessment and await confirmation from HMRC before submitting the return (see The next step )
  • don’t claim a refund within 14 days of making a tax payment
  • ensure HMRC has details of your current address
  • if you’re completing a self-assessment return as an executor, make sure HMRC is aware of this in advance of submitting it
  • indicate on your tax return that you want the refund paid direct to your bank. Refunds by cheque take much longer
  • make sure HMRC has your correct bank details.

For a link to HMRC’s guidance on when refunds won’t be made and how to register for self-assessment, visit , Download Zone, year 24 issue 1.

Self-assessment refunds are usually made automatically but will be delayed if you owe other tax or have only paid the tax in the previous 14 days. To speed things up ask for them to be made direct to your bank.

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