Receiving a letter from HMRC

A letter from HMRC isn't necessarily something to be scared of. Often they just need some additional information about your tax rebate claim. Even if they start an actual enquiry, it doesn't automatically mean they think you've done anything wrong. It could easily just be one of their random spot-checks. Whatever the reason for the letter, keep your head and get your paperwork in order. The more organised you are, the smoother the ride will be.

Common reasons the taxman might drop you a line

  • HMRC sometimes likes to check an expenses claim before they pay out. This is pretty common and nothing to stress out about. When we reply, they then take take around 12 weeks to either pay up or ask more questions. As soon as they're happy, you get your refund.
  • When there's a difference between HMRC's records of your CIS or PAYE income and yours, they start asking questions. Deliberately misreporting your income in a tax return is a fast track to major HMRC trouble, so it's best to get this sorted out immediately. This is a full, formal process, with deadlines and penalties, meaning it has to be taken seriously.
  • With travel expenses, HMRC will sometimes check your claim to make sure you can back it up. Again, this is a formal process with deadlines and penalties. As with all of these, though, as long as you have what you need to prove what you're claiming for, it should be simple to verify everything.
  • Another formal check-up you sometimes see is for the CIS income and expenses in your tax return. You can be hit with penalties and tax charges if you aren't able to back up your figures, which is why RIFT never claims for anything we can't prove.
  • Child Benefit is an issue that crops up occasionally. Basically, people don't realise they have to declare that they receive it in their tax returns. Easily missed details like this are why it's always best to get professional advice when you're dealing with tricky HMRC issues.

What should I do if HMRC starts and enquiry?

The documents you need to get through an HMRC enquiry are basically just the same ones you needed for your claim. For instance, with a PAYE travel refund claim, you'll need:

  • Your contract of employment and payslips.
  • Your MOT documents and vehicle registration.
  • Receipts for your public transport travel and expenses.

If you're claiming a CIS tax refund, then you'll want to lay your hands on:

  • Your contractor statements.
  • Your bank statements.
  • Receipts for your expenses and public transport travel.
  • Your MOT and vehicle registration papers.

What's the best way to get an enquiry closed quickly?

The best advice is to keep your paperwork organised and within easy reach. Keeping good records is the surest route to getting your full refund. It's also the key to making it through an HMRC enquiry with your money, and your sanity, intact.

When you're making your first claim, you might not be used to keeping all the documents you need to back it up. It's never too soon to start keeping good records, though. Even if you didn't hold onto every last scrap of paper for your first claim, developing better habits now could help if that previous claim ever got questioned. For instance, you might not have kept track of all your travel receipts in your last claim. However the ones you're keeping now for your next claim could still offer evidence of the kinds of costs you have to cover for work and HMRC are often prepared to view that as acceptable proof if you do get selected for an enquiry.

Major things like contractor statements are always important, but the little details count too. You might be paying for things like taxi fares and meals in cash, but you can still usually get receipts if you ask for them. As you get more experienced in keeping your records, we'll be able to give much more precise and detailed evidence to HMRC. As a result, your refunds will get bigger and they'll take less time and hassle to process.

Need more help?

Wondering if you can claim a tax refund or need to submit a tax return? Use our online tools to find out if you're owed money by HMRC.

Do I Qualify?

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RIFT Refunds, The Cobalt Building, 1600 Eureka Park, Lower Pemberton, Ashford, Kent, TN25 4BF

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