You've probably heard the reports already. We're all living longer, so we're all going to be working longer to qualify for our state pensions. By 2026, that's going to mean working until the age of 67. By 2044, we won't be downing tools until we're 68. For a lot of people in the physically demanding field of construction, that'll be 50 years of hard labour. Honestly, you'd get less for murder - which is what you're letting the taxman get away with if you aren't claiming your refunds.

The real truth is that we're not necessarily living longer at all. We're just reaching our old age in better nick, meaning more of us are getting there at all. That's fine for people with desk jobs and easy lives. Construction is strenuous, often dangerous work, though. If HMRC's telling you to work years longer for your pension, they've got to hold up their end of the bargain too.

Think about the average young construction worker getting into the industry at 18. If he's self-employed and working under CIS, he's probably owed about £2,000 per year in tax refunds by HMRC. By the time he's retiring at 68, that's £100,000 of tax money he's owed! If he's claimed it and used it well, it could even be worth a lot more. If he hasn't bothered to claim the rebates, though, that's a huge amount to miss out on.

When you're working PAYE, the average travel tax refund claimed is about £800 per year. Again, assuming a retirement age of 68, you're looking at £40,000 in refunded tax over a working lifetime. Depending on your circumstances, of course, you could be owed a lot more than that. If you're on PAYE, you need to be claiming tax relief on the food you buy as well. It may not seem like much when you're laying out a tenner a day, but over a year that could easily mean another £350 in refunds! Over a working lifetime, you could be missing out on £20,000 if you don't reclaim it.

It doesn't even stop there. You might be owed cash for accommodation expenses when you're travelling for work. Whether you're keeping all your paperwork or keeping life simple with the Flat Rate Expenses scheme, there's tax relief to claim. Laundry of your specialised clothing and repair of small tools all qualify for tax rebates. You've got to think long-term when you're dealing with the taxman. Your retirement and pension might be a long way off, but HMRC might have its hand too deep in your pocket already.

Pensions are a huge issue in tough jobs like construction, particularly for the self-employed. Only about 1 in 5 self-employed people in the UK has a private pension, as compared to roughly half of employed people. The future may strangely be further off than it seemed a few years ago, but you've still got to plan for it. Talk to RIFT to make sure you're building the kind of retirement you want.