Somehow, it's already March and the end of the 2016/17 tax year is upon us. Easter eggs are already filling up the supermarket shelves and it's time to mark your calendar and fire up your paperwork. When April the 6th comes around, a lot of people aren't going to be ready to get the tax refunds they're entitled to - meaning HRMC hangs on to their money for longer. Here's how to avoid being among them.

Why does the new tax year matter?

It's human nature to leave things to the last possible minute. We've all got limited time, so when a deadline seems far off, it's easy to get distracted by more immediate problems. The trouble is, the tax clock is always ticking. That means people are losing money to the taxman every year because they don't realise what's at stake.

One of the great things about tax refunds is you get 4 whole years to claim them. Right now, that means you can reclaim the money you're owed from as far back as 2012/13. However, when the tax year ticks over to 2017/18 on the 6th of April, any unclaimed cash from 2012/13 is lost. Just a small delay now could cost you hundreds of pounds in missed tax relief. Depending on the kind of job you do, that could mean a painful kick in the wallet from the taxman.

Do I have to wait for the new tax year year to claim my tax refund?

You can only claim a tax refund on a tax year that has finished.

Tax year 2106/17 will finish on the 5th April and then you can claim back any refund due from that period. But don't wait for the tax year to actually tick over before getting started. You can give us all the information you have now so that as soon as you get your last payslip or statement all we have to do is add that one final figure and get your calculation done and your claim submitted.

HMRC gets very busy at this time of year and you want your refund as fast as they can pay it out. That's why over a thousand of our best organised customers have already been in touch with us to give us all the info they have and get a head start. Join them now and don't get stuck at the back of HRMC's queue. Give us a call today and we can take down what you already have over the phone or you can update it in MyRIFT.

If you've claimed with us before we've already got most of your information so you'll just need to let us know the details of your work for the last year and if any basic on our records needs updating, such as your home address.

What paperwork do I need to claim my tax refund?

A lot of the time, tax refunds come from the travel you do for work. If you're spending money to get to temporary workplaces, you can get tax relief on those costs both for using your own vehicle and using public transport. The main thing you'll need to claim this is a list of all the places you've worked, and when you worked there. You don't necessarily need precise dates for every place you've worked. In general, though, the more details you have, the better the outcome.

Other helpful documents include:

  • Wage slips, P45s and P60s.
  • MOT certificates for your vehicle.
  • Receipts for your expenses (including accommodation, meals, etc.)
  • A copy of your photo ID and proof of address (if this is your first claiming with us).
  • Contracts of employment.

Don't forget that travel's not all you can claim for. Other allowable expenses include things like:

  • Subscriptions to professional bodies.
  • Repair and replacement of tools or protective gear.
  • Laundry of your essential work clothes.

I'm CIS. What does the new tax year mean for me?

If you work in construction through the Construction Industry Scheme now's a great time to sort out your CIS tax refund. The average refund for our CIS customers is £2000 per year so you'll be wanting to get that back as quick as you can.

You'll need a list of the places you've worked over the last 4 years, plus the usual supporting documents. You'll also want to grab hold of your CIS statements. These monthly documents show what tax has been deducted from your pay under the scheme. They're the key to making a successful refund claim, so don't lose them!

If I made a tax rebate claim last year will I get the same refund automatically this year?

No, you still have prove to HMRC what you spent on your travel and expenses so that they can refund any overpayment of tax. This means we need to show them how much you earned and how much you spent, the same as we did for your first claim.

The good news is that second and third and later claims tend to get you a higher amount back. This is because in the first year many people didn't have evidence of all their expenses because they didn't know they could be using them to claim tax back. Once we've helped you claim your first tax refund we can advise you on what paperwork you need to save so that we can maximise your refund in following year.

Our MyRIFT online claim manager means that you can add your information about work places, vehicles, employers and so on throughout the year, too, so you don't even have to do it all in April.

Find out about everything you need to do to make your next claim.

I'm self-employed. What does the new tax year mean for me?

For self-employed people, the situation is a little different - but this is still an important time of year.

If you're self-employed outside of construction, the deadline for filing your Self Assessment tax return probably seems a long way off. Don't be fooled, though. It's probably going to be a lot easier to lay your hands on all your records now than it will next January.

Again, keeping all your expense receipts in order and filing your return early are just good common sense. Finding out what you owe and what you're owed now will make the next year's planning a lot easier. You'll be glad of the early notice when it's time to give the taxman his due.

Whatever kind of work you do, and whatever kind of refund you're claiming, remember to talk to RIFT. We're the best in the tax business, and we're always ready to help. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner you'll get your money.