Urgent warning to UK taxpayers as thousands owed £1,500 refund - how to check if you're one of them

Money with HMRC form
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Hundreds of thousands of people are missing out on hundreds of pounds - but you can get your money back. Latest figures show workers across a range of industries could be owed a tax refund.

People in construction, offshore, armed forces and the security sector are most likely to be owed cash. Seasonal workers such as those with holiday jobs in the summer or Christmas could also be owed cash. The average payout last year came in at £1,562.

To get your money back you need to make a claim before the end of the financial year which ends in April. This can be backdated four years which means while anyone who overpaid in 2019/20 is no longer able to recover any overpayment they can still claim for the following four years.

Tax specialists, RIFT Tax Refunds, says the average taxpayer could be owed as much as £1,562 by HMRC, with this total having increased by 6.6% over the last year alone. Bradley Post, MD of RIFT Tax Refunds, said: “Despite a drop in inflation, the cost of living remains a substantial obstacle for many to overcome on a month-to-month basis and households across the nation are yet to see the cost of their monthly outgoings drop.

"What many don’t know is that they could be owed a sizable refund from HMRC and what’s more, this refund can be back-dated for up to four years. So while this year’s tax deadline has been and gone, there’s still time to apply ahead of next year to ensure you don’t miss out on another year’s refund, a refund which is rightfully yours.”

It has now answered common questions to explain who could get cash back. This is what they say:

Average tax refund climbs 6% in the last year

The latest figures from RIFT show that in 2023, the average tax refund owed by HMRC came in at £1,562, a 6.6% increase versus the previous year.

However, what many people don’t realise is that it’s not only possible to claim a tax refund for the last tax year, but you can back-date this claim for up to the last four years, with the average four year refund currently sitting at just over £3,000 according to RIFT.

With the 2023/24 financial year having now come to an end as of 5th April this year, it means that anyone who hasn’t claimed a tax refund for the 2019/20 financial year is now unable to do so. But they are still well within their rights to claim for the last four tax years before next year’s April deadline.

Why might HMRC owe you money?

You may be owed a tax refund for a range of reasons, such as overpaying tax via PAYE, however, the most common reasons are for expenses incurred while working. These can range from fuel costs to accommodation, as well as any work related uniform expenses incurred.

While anyone could be owed a tax refund, some of the most common sectors include the armed forces, those working either offshore or in construction, as well as those working within the security sector.

Construction workers owed the largest refunds

In fact, in 2023 it was construction workers who were owed the most by HMRC, with the average one year tax refund claim coming in at £1,125, having increased by 3.7% year on year.

Those working in the security sector saw the largest year on year increase, with the average one year claim climbing by 3.9% to an average of £846, while the average one year claim for the armed forces also exceeded £800.

While offshore workers received the lowest amount for a one year claim, the average worker still secured a tax refund to the tune of £753 from HMRC in 2023.

Who might be eligible for a refund?

According to the government you may be able to get a tax refund (rebate) if you’ve paid too much tax. This could be from:

  • pay from a job

  • job expenses such as working from home, fuel, work clothing or tools

  • a pension

  • a Self Assessment tax return

  • a redundancy payment

  • UK income if you live abroad

  • interest from savings or payment protection insurance (PPI)

  • income from a life or pension annuity

  • foreign income

  • UK income earned before leaving the UK

How to get help with your refund

Making a claim is straightforward, according to the HM Revenue & Customs website. It says a claim takes just 15 minutes via the HMRC service site. Search "tax refund" on GOV.UK - or go here - to learn more.

Once you have signed into the HMRC service, you just need to follow the simple step-by-step guidance to submit a claim. Those who need to set up an account can do so quickly and easily via GOV.UK, it said.

However some people prefer to hand the job to a professional tax refund agent, such as RIFT. They said: "RIFT has been helping UK taxpayers with their tax refund since 1999, helping over 140,000 workers claim back over £387m from HMRC. Picking the right agent is key and it’s always important to be aware of any fees you will be charged before you begin the process."