Click on any of the questions to see the answer alternatively you can download all of these FAQs as a PDF document by clicking here.
1. Why do I need to check my tax code?
A few years ago, The Revenue (“HM Revenue and Customs” to give them their proper name) lost over £54m because the tax rules allowed taxpayers to get away without having to pay tax they owed if they could blame the mistake on The Revenue . The Revenue wasn’t happy about that, so they’re set to change the rules.
It’s now going to be every taxpayers personal responsibility to pay exactly the right amount of tax every year. If you pay the wrong amount, unless you can PROVE you’ve double-checked your tax code, you could face hefty fines and penalties. Even if you fail to spot a mistake made by The Revenue, it’s likely you’ll be blamed for not doing more to get it corrected. In some cases, you could even face big fines and penalties just for not filling in the right forms, even if you actually paid the right amount of tax. Claiming you didn’t know you had to fill them in won’t make any difference.
There could be a nice bonus though. Checking your tax code could get you a tax refund!
2. How often do I need to check my tax code?
If you want to be safe, you need to check it every year.
3. Why might I be due a tax refund?
There’s a couple of reasons. The first is The Revenue could have made a mistake with your tax code in the last 4 years.
The other is you might not know there are tax allowances, (or were tax allowances as some of them have gone now) you were entitled to ask for so you paid less tax. If you didn’t know about these allowances, there’s no way you could ask The Revenue to put them in your tax code, so they give you the wrong code. That meant you paid more tax than you needed to.
The good news is it’s not too late to ask The Revenue to do this because they’ll let you go back up to 4 years to claim any allowances you missed out on, or to correct any mistakes they or your employer made.
The problem you’ve got is unless you know what to look for, you won’t spot any mistakes and unless you know what allowances you were entitled to, you can’t ask The Revenue to let you have them! That means any money you overpaid is going to stay in The Revenue’s bank account, instead of yours! The Revenue also gives you a deadline to claim your money back. If you miss it, they’ll keep your money!
4. Doesn’t my employer check my tax code?
We’re asked this all the time but it’s a common fallacy. In actual fact, your employer has to use the tax code they’re given by The Revenue. That’s the law. If the code’s wrong, your employer can’t do anything about it. It’s up to you to check the code and make sure The Revenue has given them the right one. If it’s wrong, it’s your responsibility to get it corrected if you want to avoid the risk of fines and penalties.
5. How much do you charge?
We don’t charge a penny for our in-depth tax code review. We’ll do the whole thing for FREE (unless you’ve already used our service in the last 4 years in which case have a look at Questions 33 and 34)
If we manage to get you a refund as well, we ask you to let us keep 39p from each £1 we get you. We don’t ask you for a minimum fee either. If you get £5, you’ll be giving us just £1.95!! We don’t use hidden charges, or cheque handling fees or administration fees or anything like that, because they’re all the same as a minimum fee.
Just because there’s no minimum fee, doesn’t mean we only go after the bigger refunds either. If you’re owed a refund, no matter how small, we’ll get it back for you. Our smallest refund in 2012 was just £1.60, although our biggest was £7,343. We know it’s hard to believe, but we'll help you get a refund even if we lose money!
6. Isn’t your fee expensive?
If you’re thinking this, it’s probably worth looking at what options you’ve got, apart from using us.
The first option is you contact The Revenue yourself. Take a look at Question 18 to see what this involves.
The second option is to use a high street accountant. They’ll charge you £100 - £150 per hour and you’ll have to pay this even if you don’t get a refund. If your case gets complicated, or The Revenue asks lots of questions, or loses your file and asks your accountant to resend it (which they’ve been known to do over and over again), you’ll end up paying your accountant loads of money! There’s no way of knowing how much it’s going to cost you until you’ve reached the end of the process, and by then it’s too late! It could easily turn out to be very expensive, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a refund!
The third option is you do nothing. In 2012, 40.83% of the reviews we finished ended up with a refund, so if you look at that another way, by doing nothing there's a 41% chance you’ll lose all the money The Revenue owes you. That’s the same as paying 100% of your refund to The Revenue. Now that’s really expensive!
The fourth option is to use another company. If you want to do this, here’s a couple of useful tips…
Tip 1 – Check there’s no minimum fee, cheque handling fee, admin fee, or fees for getting copies of documents. These are all ways of charging you a minimum fee. A minimum fee can easily end up being much more than 39% of your refund. In some cases, it’ll be more than the refund, so you get nothing back! You may have to read the “small print” very carefully to find these charges. By charging a minimum fee, other companies can charge a lower percentage because they know you’ll be paying them a minimum amount, even if you only get a small refund. A £50 minimum fee from £90 refund is the same as paying a 55% fee.
Tip 2 - Check they’re not cherry picking or specifically looking for the big refund cases. If they quote average refunds of over £400, they are. Unless you’re likely to be due a large refund, these firms often find a way not to deal with your case, simply because it’s not worth their while for a lower percentage. They probably won’t say, “you’re not due anything”, but they’ll try and give you that impression. If you’re due a refund and they don’t get it back for you, the chances are you’ll lose it entirely. That’s exactly the same as paying a fee of 100%!
Tip 3 – Check they’re not getting you to send your own claim direct to The Revenue, but making it look as if they’re doing it for you! Of course they won’t tell you they’re doing this because they want you to think they’re actually doing some work for you to justify their fee. It’s a very easy trick to miss if you don’t know what to look for, especially as it will be very well disguised. It has all the same risks we talk about in Question 18, with the added risk you’ll pay a fee as well. Apart from the fact you’ll pay them over 20% of your refund, plus a cheque handling fee for doing nothing but letting you download a pack of forms to fill out with some instructions on how to do it, you could end up facing serious problems with The Revenue, which you will have to sort out on your own, or pay an accountant to sort out!
Tip 4 – If their website says that they’re members of an “Association”, or “Scheme” designed to protect you, do some proper background checks into the Association or Scheme. It’s probably not what it appears to be! Also, check the members of that Association or Scheme to see if they’re actually linked to each other, owned by the same people, or even exist!
Tip 5 – Check their “small print” doesn’t say that if The Revenue says you have underpaid tax as a result of them submitting a claim, the company does not accept liability or that it is up to you to sort it yourself. It may not be worded as simply as this, but if you spot wording along these lines, it’s a good indication they’re just making claims for allowances they think you’ve missed out on. If they’re not doing a full review of your tax codes for the last 4 years, they could easily be submitting a claim when you actually owe more tax and they wouldn’t know, which is why their small print is designed to protect them and make it your problem to sort out if they get you into a mess. It could be a very costly problem!
There’s a number of very good reasons why we’re the only “Approved Provider” for nearly every Trade Union in Britain, as well as professional bodies such as The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists, Society of Radiographers, Association of Optometrists, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives, as well as Local Authorities, Police Federations and major employers including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, JD Wetherspoons, Lookers, H&M and Peacocks. Ultimately, you’ll get what you pay for.
7. How long does it take?
To carry out a proper in-depth review, it’s probably going to take at least 6 - 12 weeks if you reply quickly to the letters or emails we send you. We’ll also tell you if we put in a refund claim to The Revenue. They normally take 6 - 8 weeks to deal with simple claims, but up to 30 weeks or more for complex claims. We’ll be checking the progress of your claim and every 6 weeks, we’ll send a reminder to The Revenue. Remember, we only get paid when you get your refund, so we’ll try and get your money back as soon as possible.
8. What if I’m not due a refund?
We’ll write and tell you we’ve finished you tax code review and return any original documents you sent us.
9. How will I know if I’ve got a refund?
You’ll get a letter from The Revenue telling you how much you’re getting. They’ll also tell you they’re sending the refund to “your agent”. It will show your agent as PTS or Personal Taxation Services Ltd which is us. The Tax Refund Company is our trading name.
10. If I get a refund, what happens to my cheque?
If they follow your instructions, The Revenue will send us a cheque. We'll take our fee and send the rest of the money to you. You should get your cheque within 28 days of the date shown on the letter you’ve got from The Revenue.
28 days is just a guide because local or national postal strikes or changes in the way The Revenue send out assessments and refunds, might slow things up. It also takes up to 28 days because we often don’t get the cheque for 7-10 days after they send you a letter, even though your letter may say they’ve sent it.
Once we’ve get your refund, we’ll check it’s correct and hold on to it for 7 days to make sure The Revenue doesn’t ask for some of it back! We do get cheques for more than the amount due and The Revenue will always want it back, so the last thing we want to do is to send you a refund and then have The Revenue ask you for some of it back!
11. Do you know how much I am going to get?
We’ve got a good idea but The Revenue does the final calculation and then we check it before we send you the cheque.
12. Are you regulated by a Professional Body?
Our founder and Non-Exec Director, Bernard Oster, is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, so yes, we’re certainly regulated.
13. How long have you been in business?
7,096 days at the time of writing this, or 170,304 hours or 10, 218,240 seconds!! We actually started on the 19th August 1993, although in those days we were called Professional Taxation Services Limited until we realised everyone thought they needed to be a doctor, solicitor, architect or something “professional” sounding to use our service.
14. Where are your Terms & Conditions?
We like to keep everything really simple and easy to understand, so apart from asking you to agree to let us have 39p from every £1 we help get back for you, there aren’t any.
We don’t feel the need to try and protect ourselves by tying you up with a whole host of legal jargon that in reality most people never read, let alone understand if they did. If we do something wrong, we’ll hold up our hands and admit it. We’ve worked like this since day 1 and dealt with over 2.3million applications for a review, and we’ve never had a problem yet.
We have a couple of other services and these do unfortunately have a few short T&C’s, but that’s only so our clients know exactly what they’re getting and we’ve written them in a way that hopefully everyone can understand.
15. I want to use your service so what do I need to do?
You’ve got a couple of choices. If you’re still on our website (and haven’t printed these questions off as a pdf), you can click on the "Apply Now" button at the top of the screen. You’ll need to give us some basic information to start the review. We’ll look at your answers and then email or write to you for more information. When you click the “Apply Now” button, you’ll also get the option to use a printable form which you fill in on screen and then print and post to us.
The other option you’ve got is to fill in the form your employer, trade union or professional body have given you and send it to the FREEPOST address shown on the form. (In case it’s not obvious, it’s The Tax Refund Company, FREEPOST SK1892, Stockport, SK1 3XZ)
If you don’t have a claim form you can either open a pdf version and print it off by clicking here or if you’ve not got a printer, just send us a stamped and self-addressed envelope and we’ll send you one. Send your envelope to Marketing Department, The Tax Refund Company, Grosvenor House, St Thomas’s Place, Stockport SK1 3TZ. Any size envelope will be just fine, but please don’t forget to put your name and address on it and a 1st or 2nd class stamp
16. I’m retired so can I still use your service?
If you’ve paid tax in the last 4 years, it’s definitely worth letting us check your tax code. If you’re due a refund we’ll get it back for you. After all, the Old Age Pension doesn’t go as far as it used to any more!
17. Who provides the Service?
We do. The Tax Refund Company is the trading name of Personal Taxation Services Limited.
18. Can I check my tax code or find out if I am due a tax refund myself?
If you really know what you’re doing and can actually get through to The Revenue, of course you can. But that assumes you’ve got lots of patience, plenty of time, and know exactly which areas of your tax you need to look at in each of the last 4 tax years. You’ll also need to know which allowances you were entitled to claim, where mistakes may have been made, and most importantly, what questions you’re going to need to ask The Revenue.
It also assumes you know enough about the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) rules so when you ask The Revenue a question, you know the answers they give you are actually right, which may not always be the case! A survey of The Revenue’s customer call centres by The Low Income Tax Reform Group found that The Revenue consistently made mistakes and in some more complicated cases, up to 80% of the answers they gave were wrong!
If you manage to get a refund yourself, you’ll need to know enough about tax to check it’s the right amount. If they pay you too much, you can be certain they’ll want it back, even if you’ve spent it! It’s actually more likely they won’t pay you enough, so you may have missed out on a large refund we could have got back for you. Let’s be clear though, if they don’t send you enough, it’s most likely going to be your fault for not asking the right questions, not The Revenue’s.
The other thing you need to be aware of (and this is something you never get told by all those people and websites who say you can do this yourself), is that by speaking directly to The Revenue and asking them to open your file to check your tax, they might say you owe them money! They may be right, but the amount you owe could be much less than they’re telling you. Over 50% of the underpayment cases we look at are wrong! Unless you know what you’re doing, you’ll then have no option but to pay them the amount they demand. They’ll probably just start taking it from your wages so you’ll have no choice.
Using our service, you’ll avoid these risks because we know exactly what we’re doing (as we should having done this for over 2.3 million taxpayers in the last 20 years) and we’ll only contact The Revenue if we think you’re owed a refund.
19. This review goes back over 4 years. I’ve only worked for my employer for a short time. Is it still worth me applying for your service?
Yes. If you've paid tax in any of the last 4 years, it’s worth giving us a go. You’ve got nothing to lose.
20. How can you check my tax code or find out if I’m due a refund when you’re only asking a few questions?
We’ve worked really hard to make this process easy to follow and simple to use so we don’t ask you for information we don’t need at the start. If we did, we’d need to send you about 40 pages of questions, most of which won’t be relevant to you.
Depending on what you’ve told us on the claim form, we’ll be able to see exactly what we need to ask next. We'll write and ask you for this once we’ve got your completed claim form. If you want to supply any additional information you think may be of use, please do. It is better to give us too much than too little.
21. What if I can’t find / don’t have all the information you ask for?
It’s not a problem. Just give us what you can. If you can’t answer a question or you don’t have a document we ask for, just tell us when you send back the paperwork or reply to our online questions. Just because you can’t provide the information we ask for, doesn’t mean we can’t get you a refund. You should always send back the paperwork or respond to the online questions. If you don’t, we probably won’t be able to finish your review, which means you’re very likely to lose any money you’re owed by The Revenue.
22. Do I have to send you my original pay slip and P60?
It helps speed up your claim if we’ve got an original P60 but a copy of your pay slip will be OK. When we’ve finished your review, we’ll send your original documents back. If you decide not to complete the review, you’ll need to send us a stamped and self-addressed envelope so we can return your original documents. All documents are held in strict accordance with the Data Protection regulations.
23. I need my original P60 / pay slips back. How do I get them?
Just write to us, making sure you include your reference number, and we'll return the documents to you. Send your letter to Client Services Team, The Tax Refund Company, Grosvenor House, St Thomas’s Place, Stockport, SK1 3TZ. We may have to ask for your original P60 back again if we find you’re due a refund as The Revenue won’t accept copies of your P60.
24. What if you find I’ve not paid enough tax?
It’s very unlikely. However, if you’ve underpaid, we’ll ONLY tell you, not The Revenue. You should then inform The Revenue or you can ask us to do it for you, but we can’t insist you tell them.
If they spot you’ve underpaid at a later date through their own system, they’re likely to charge you interest and penalties. It’s in your interest to contact them, as you’re likely to avoid penalties and interest at a later date. However, if we think there are reasons you shouldn’t have to repay some, or even all, of the money you owe, (there are various reasons why this may be the case) we'll tell you and suggest the appropriate action.
25. I’ve got an “Underpayment Notice” from The Revenue saying I owe them more tax. Can you help?
If you’ve got an Underpayment Notice from The Revenue and you want us to look at it for you, you need to fill in one of our claim forms (see question 15) and send it to us in the post together with a copy of the Underpayment Notice. We’ll be in touch and let you know if we can help you.
26. I’ve received my refund cheque directly from The Revenue so what should I do?
The Revenue have made a mistake and not followed your instructions which said to send the cheque to us, so please give us a call on 0161 968 7300 and let us know. We’ll ask you to send us the paperwork they sent you so we can make sure they’ve sent you the right amount.
We strongly suggest you don’t spend any of the refund until you’ve contacted us and we’ve confirmed it’s correct. We often get refunds where The Revenue has sent too much and we’ve had to send the cheque back and ask them to send us the right amount. The Revenue would have eventually spotted their error, possibly up to a year later, and wanted the money back anyway, but we managed to stop our clients being given the money, spending it and then being told they had to pay it back. The Revenue always gets their money back, even if you’ve spent it, because ultimately the law makes it your job to check you’ve paid the right amount of tax.
Once we’ve checked it’s the right amount, we’ll send you an invoice for our fee, which we’d like you to pay within 7 days, by cheque, BACS, credit or debit card.
Obviously because we’ve submitted your claim, The Revenue will also tell us they’ve sent it to you and when, but this might be quite a while after they send it to you and you’ll probably have spent the money by the time they tell us.
Although it’s obvious, we must remind you that you’re still legally liable for our fee if The Revenue sends the refund to you instead of us.
27. On your form, you’re asking if I’ve paid professional subscriptions – what are professional subscriptions?
These are generally payments you make to a professional body that relate to your job, keeping you up to date with current issues or training. In some cases, payments to a Trade Union are also classed as “professional subscriptions”. If you’re in any doubt, just tick the box anyway and we’ll find out for you.
28. Can my wife / husband / son / daughter/ mother / father / aunty / uncle / friend use your service even though they are not a member of my trade union / don’t work for the same company as me?
Yes, as long as they are aged over 16. If you’ve got a form you’ve not yet filled in, you can copy it. If not, question 15 tells you how to get one. We can’t provide our service for your dog, cat, gerbil, stick insect or other pet. We’ve had applications for them in the past but unfortunately they’ve not paid tax so we can’t get them a refund.
29. How come my friend / colleague does the same job as me and got a refund and I didn’t?
Everyone has their own unique tax affairs and personal circumstances and so the tax they’ve paid may well be different. Just because your friend or colleague got a refund doesn’t mean you’re due one. Even if you filled out your claim form and answered all our questions with exactly the same information as your friend or colleague, it doesn’t mean you’ll get a refund just because they did. We’ve had people do that in the past and they’re always disappointed as even if we put in a refund claim to The Revenue, they’ll always spot something’s wrong.
30. I’m using your service – how do I contact you by telephone?
We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on 0161 968 7300. At really busy times, you may have to leave a message and we’ll call you back. It may take us a day to get back to you if we’re really really busy! It’s always helpful if you leave us a mobile number or a number where we can leave a message because we can’t keep calling you back. If we call your mobile, it will say “number blocked” on your screen, but it’s just us returning your call.
31. I haven’t used your service yet and I still have some questions, so can I contact you by telephone?
Yes, we’d love to speak with you so just call us on 0161 968 7345 during our normal office hours, which are Monday to Friday 9 to 5.
32. Can I come and see you?
Of course you can. We’d love to show you around, although we can’t promise it’s going to be as interesting as visiting a chocolate factory. We’re here working hard to recover your money from Monday to Friday, normally between 9 and 5, although there’s nearly always someone in the office before 6am!
It’s a good idea to give us a call before you visit so we can make sure there’s someone to meet you. We wouldn’t want to keep you waiting.
33. How can I check if I’ve used your service in the last 4 years?
We understand 4 years is a long time so if you can’t remember if you’ve had a refund from us or a letter saying we’ve finished your review, just call us on 0161 968 7345. If you give us your National Insurance Number, we should be able to tell you whether you’ve had a tax code review already, assuming you gave us your National Insurance number when you applied before. If you’ve had a review in the last 4 years and want us to check your tax codes for this year and those years we haven’t yet checked, take a look at question 34.
34. I’ve already used your service in the last 4 years so what can I do?
If you finished a tax code review in the last 4 years, you’ve qualified to use our Annual Tax Code Review service.
Using this service we’ll check your tax code for the current year and last year, and depending on when you last had a review, up to 3 previous years as well. We want to make sure you’re totally up to date so you’re protected from The Revenue. If we help you get a tax refund, it’s going to be all yours. We won’t want a penny!
As part of the service, we’ll also deal with the income tax letters you get from The Revenue during the year and make sure you’re kept up to date with what The Revenue need to know if your circumstances change. If you get any fines or penalties from The Revenue for a year we checked using this service and it’s because we made a mistake, we’ll pay the fines and penalties for you, although there’s a couple of terms and conditions to this as you’d expect.
The fee for the Annual Tax Code Review service is just £24.99. If you’re a member of a trade union or professional body, we might have agreed a discounted fee so check with us first. Call us on 0161 968 7448.
To avoid any misunderstanding, we must make it clear you can only use our Annual Tax Code Review service if we’ve got a record to show we checked your tax codes in the last 4 years using our free review. We’ve either got to have your National Insurance Number on our system or you’ll need to give us your client reference number which was on everything we sent you.
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