With the UK making a big push toward getting back to work, now’s the perfect time to refresh your memory about tax refunds. All those good habits you’ve developed, from tracking mileage to hoarding receipts, need to be pressed back into service.

Remember, those yearly tax refunds are your legal right. That’s why keeping track of what you’re spending on essential work costs is the best way to keep HMRC playing fair. So many people lose out to the taxman each year, but the right help and a little legwork will make sure you always get the best from your refund claim. Here are the key points to keep in mind:

What mileage should I claim for and what records do I need?

If you’ve been using public transport recently or getting picked up in a works van, switching back to tracking mileage in your own vehicle can feel like a grind. However, HMRC’s Approved Mileage Allowance Payments mean that every mile you travel for work earns you some tax relief. Remember that it’s only travel to temporary sites that counts, though (less than 24 months on the trot). Don’t try claiming for a regular commute to a permanent workplace.

Work travel makes up the single biggest chunk of most tax refund claims. Track your mileage and record your journeys to get the most from it.

Is work travel the only thing to keep records about?

Absolutely not! In fact, your basic work mileage is only the foundation of your claim. Look a little closer at those journeys before you move on, though. If you’re spending any cash on things like overnight stays and food costs while you’re on the road, for instance, keep your receipts. Those expenses are all valuable when you’re claiming your tax refund.

While we’re on the subject of food, make sure to get receipts when you can. Everything from your morning break cuppa to the snacks and sandwiches that get you through the day can count toward your refund. Even if receipts aren’t an option, there’s still no reason to miss out on what you’re owed. Things like mini-statements from cash machines and even photos of the menu board can still show the taxman what you’re spending. If you’re using the free MyRIFT app, things get even easier. You can upload the evidence on the spot to track your spending as you go.

What does it take to make a complete claim?

It’s always a good idea to understand which costs you’re allowed to include in your tax refund claim. For example, if you’ve had to replace, repair or even clean any essential tools, equipment or uniforms from your own pocket, you can get a tax refund for your costs. This kind of thing is easily missed and, like food costs, it might not seem like a ton of cash when you’re shelling it out. Over time, though, it all mounts up and there’s no reason to miss out on what you’re due.

What about training costs? Do they count toward my refund?

If you’ve been training up while you’ve been away from work, you could be owed some extra cash back. Travel to your training site could well count as essential work mileage, if it’s an important part of doing your job.

Getting back to work during a pandemic is tough enough without losing cash to HMRC. If you've not checked if you're due a refund take a couple of minutes to use our free tax refund calculator to see what you're owed.

When you’re meeting up with workmates and colleagues again after some forced time apart, remember to check that they know about tax refunds and RIFT. With our Refer a Friend system, you can help keep the taxman honest for them – and earn some extra cash for yourself at the same time. Every friend you refer to use scores you £50 when they claim their refund with RIFT. Make 5 of these referrals for a £150 bonus on top! Read more about the cash rewards and prize draws on offer, and keep those referrals rolling in to reap the full benefits.

RIFT are the UK's leading tax refund and tax return experts.  If you think you could be owed tax back, use our free tax rebate calculator for an instant estimate of what you could be owed.