Tax Refunds for Armed Forces personnel

It’s not widely known, but serving and former MOD personnel can claim Armed Forces tax refunds for their travel expenses to temporary postings. Loosely speaking, we’re talking about postings of under 24 months, whether they’re in the UK or overseas. It makes no difference whether you use your own vehicle or public transport, and with RIFT’s help you could be looking at a refund of over £3,000 covering the last 4 years.

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Tax Back, Hassles Free

Why choose RIFT?

The MOD love us

80% of Armed Forces customers want to claim with RIFT again.

We get you more!

89% say we got them a bigger tax refund than by claiming themselves.

Proud to support

We partner with The Soldier's Charity & are signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant.

We make it simple

97% of Armed Forces customers say claiming is easy with us.

RIFT Guarantee

Our guarantee means you'll never lose a penny

When you claim your MOD tax rebate with RIFT, our unique RIFT Guarantee means you'll never worry about the taxman reclaiming any of your money.  So long as you give us full and accurate information, if HMRC disagrees with the amount that we've claimed and asks for the money back, we'll pay it ourselves.  We keep your refund safe so it won't cost you a penny.

RIFT Guarantee

MOD Tax Refunds

What Do I Need For An MOD Tax Rebate?

With RIFT, even complicated MOD tax refunds are simple and hassle-free. Our specialist MOD teams are experts in Armed Forces money and travel, and take care of all the hard work and heavy lifting of claiming your refunds. Here’s the basic paperwork it takes to get back everything HMRC owes you:

  • A list of the bases you’ve attended. Copies of assignment orders are a big help here. You can grab them from JPA if you’re quick, but remember they’re deleted after 60 days. If you’ve spent time and cash on attending courses, remember to include records of these for your claim.
  • Your monthly payslips. If you can’t lay your hands on all of these, you can download copies from the JPAC website.
  • Supporting documents. We’re talking about any other evidence you have of the cash you’re shelling out to do your job. Receipts for Mess Dress, MOT certificates, P60s and P45s are all great things to show HMRC – but don’t stress out if you don’t have everything at your fingertips. RIFT can still make your claim without a lot of this paperwork, and can even help fill in the blanks in your records.
  • Other information. With the basics sorted out, we’ll ask you a couple of simple questions about your financial situation. HMRC will want to know about any other money you’ve got coming in, for example, or whether you’re paying off a Student Loan or have a private pension. The MOD has some specific rules about your accommodation, which can affect the military refund you’re owed, so talking us through your living arrangements will help us work out how much tax you’ve overpaid.

You'll need to set up a Personal Tax Account, if you don’t already have one. It’s free, and means you can see all your important tax, employer and other information in one place. To keep everything simple, we’ll set you up with a free MyRIFT account as well. With MyRIFT, you can check and update all the details of your claim from anywhere in the world. Keeping those key details up-to-date is essential, and MyRIFT puts you in the driving seat and on the fast track.

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Military claims

What expenses does my military tax refund include?

To get the best from your Armed Forces tax refund, you'll want to claim for more than just your basic travel costs to temporary postings.  Military claims can also include:

  • Mess dress. 
  • Food costs.
  • Travel to any training courses necessary for your job.

Use our RIFT Military tax refund calculator for a quick estimate of how much you could claim.  It only takes a minute, but it could be worth thousands.

HMRC processing time

How long does an MOD tax refund take to process?

HMRC usually takes about 8-10 weeks to process an Armed Forces tax refund claim. RIFT has 7 dedicated military claims specialist teams working hard to get the very best from your refund - and get it to you fast. The sooner you set the wheels rolling by sending RIFT the information we need, the sooner you’ll get back what you’re owed.

Tax Advice

Will my tax code change if I claim my MOD Tax Refund?

When you make an Armed Forces tax refund claim, it’s worth keeping an eye on your tax code. Your code tells HMRC how much you can earn before you start paying tax, and lists any special circumstances that apply to you. When you claim a military refund, HMRC will sometimes change your code to accommodate the costs you’re claiming for. The thing is, they tend to make assumptions when they do this, and it can cause problems down the line.

When the taxman changes your tax code, he’ll usually be assuming that your expenses will stay the same from year to year. As anyone living the Armed Forces life will know, that’s probably not the case – particularly when there’s overseas travel involved. Being on the wrong tax code means you’ll end up being charged the wrong amount of tax. At some point you’ll have to settle up with HMRC, one way or the other.

Of course, your tax code can change for all sorts of reasons. They’re not all necessarily bad news, either. Your code will change when your tax-free Personal Allowance goes up, for example. That means you’ll be able to earn more before the taxman takes a bite. The point is that you need to keep your eyes open when it comes to tax codes, and to kick up a fuss if yours ever looks wrong. The system can be tough to get our head around, so even though HMRC’s supposed to let you know when (and why) they’re changing your tax code, it’s still easy to lose your footing if you don’t know the rules. If you get a document P2 Coding Notice and don’t understand why your code’s changing, RIFT has your back. When we take care of your tax refund, we'll automatically check whether any changes have been made to your tax code. If it’s wrong, we’ll get it fixed without costing you a penny. It's all part of the RIFT service!

A lot of people don’t really know where they stand when it comes to tax codes. Check out RIFT’s HMRC tax codes explained pages for more information.

Check my tax code

Armed Forces Tax Rebate

MOD supports Armed Forces tax rebates

It’s important to realise that military tax refunds aren’t some “dodge” around the tax rules or a prize you can win. Tax refunds are your legal right, and the money you get back is simply a repayment of tax you shouldn’t have paid in the first place. You can read the letter DIN '2015DIN01-005' the MOD sent us for assurance that Armed Forces tax refunds are 100% legit and allowed.

Read MOD Letter

Discounted Rate of 25%

Silver Service: RIFT's Armed Forces Covenant MOD Discount

The Armed Forces Covenant is about honouring the commitments and sacrifices made by former and serving military personnel. The RIFT family has always treasured our close ties to the Armed Forces community, and we work hard to uphold the values and promise of the Armed Forces Covenant.

In 2018, we were proud to be awarded the AFC’s prestigious Silver status. To celebrate, we announced a discounted fee of 25% for returning MOD tax refund customers. Read our blog to find out more on how you can take advantage of this exclusive discounted rate. Terms and conditions apply.

Earning AFC Silver status meant looking hard at RIFT as a company, inside and out. We wanted to see what more we could do to ensure that former and serving Armed Forces personnel are never put at a disadvantage by their service. We built new positions for MOD veterans within the business and found new ways of reaching out to the military community. We also made work more flexible for Service members and their spouses. Now, with our special discounted fee rate of 25%, we’re putting our money where our mouth is again.

It’s an honour to serve MOD personnel, tackling their tax rebate claims and much more. We’re here to fight for you, so you’re always better off with RIFT.

ABF Soldiers Charity

ABF The Soldiers' Charity and RIFT

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is an amazing organisation, helping military personnel and families through times of hardship and bereavement. RIFT is honoured to partner with the charity to support its work through direct donations, along with promoting and participating in their events and activities. So far, we’ve made over £255,000 in donations as corporate sponsors of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and we’re not slowing down.

 

Customer stories

"I claimed over £2,724 after my colleague told me about RIFT"

I joined the Army when I was 16 and heard about RIFT through a colleague at my barracks. I’ve travelled to quite a few different bases, including outside the UK, using my car and flights too. I called RIFT and they said I could claim for the past four years and get my money even quicker with their RIFT Rapid Refund service. They were easy to get in touch with over email and phone, and they let me know quickly how much I was owed. Before I knew it the cash was in my account! It was great to get back over £2,724 so quickly and now I’ve started telling my mates I’m getting money from referrals too.

Lee Smith, 22 Ex-Lance Corporal

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Military claims

How tax refunds work in the Armed Forces

John, from Blackburn in Lancashire, has been an Armed Forces member since 2014. Back in July of 2015, he was posted for 2 years to RAF Benson. 8 months into that posting, however, he was deployed on operational tour. After 6 months, he returned to RAF Benson, where he remained for another 8 months before transferring to Cambridge for a year. John then spent a total of 16 months at Blackwater. Throughout much of this time, he drove home most weekends from his UK bases, for a grand total of around 400 miles of travel per week.

When it came to claiming back the tax John was owed for his travel expenses, he came to RIFT. Our specialist MOD teams know Armed Forces money and tax like the back of their hands, so we knew instantly that we could get him back everything he was owed. As he’d spent under 24 months at each base he was posted to, they all qualified as “temporary workplaces” in the taxman’s eyes. That meant that John’s travel costs were eligible for a military tax refund.

John received an allowance under the Get You Home scheme of about £2,500 a year, tax-free. That brought down the amount he could claim a bit, but he was still delighted to receive a refund totalling £3,310 and covering 4 years’ worth of travel.

MOD Tax Refunds

Armed forces travel refund information

Whichever Service branch you’re in (or were in during the last 4 years), you’re entitled to an MOD tax refund from HMRC when you pay for essential travel from your own pocket. Even if you've already left the Armed Forces, you can still get tax back for travel to temporary postings in the last 4 tax years.

In the Armed Forces, travel tax rebates have often been a touchy subject. RIFT fought hard alongside HMRC and the MOD to clear up the bad information floating about and get Forces Mileage Claims back on the table. Crucially, you could still be owed money even if you're already getting a travel refund at the Motor Mileage Allowance rate.

For instance, suppose you're getting an MMA allowance of 20p per mile travelled. For essential work travel to temporary postings, HMRC says you should be getting:

  • 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles travelled in a tax year.
  • 25p per mile after that.

The MMA rate here is actually lower than HMRC's own Approved Mileage Allowance payment (AMAP) rates. Assuming you're covered by HMRC's travel refund rules, you should be claiming a Forces travel refund based on the difference between the AMAP and MMA rates.

Complex Travel Journeys

How much information do you need about the journeys I'm making?

As a basic rule of thumb, the more information we have about the work travel you’re doing, the better the outcome when your refund’s paid out. Armed Forces travel refund claims can be complicated, particularly when multi-leg journeys and overseas postings are involved. Wherever possible, telling us about each stage of your journeys to and from base will give us the best possible start for your Forces claim. Those little details might not seem important, but they can quickly stack up into a much larger refund.

For example, suppose you were posted to Bad Fallingbostel, back before the base was closed. Let's say you were living in Ashford, Kent at the time. The journey to your posting might look something like:

  • Driving about 23 miles to Dover.
  • Taking the ferry from Dover to Calais.
  • Driving or taking public transport for close to 450 miles from Calais to the base in Bad Fallingbostel.

You might expect claiming a tax refund in Germany would be a nightmare. Every leg of that journey adds to your total travel costs. Not only are you burning fuel on the land sections, but you've also shelled out for the ferry costs. The cost of international travel can also vary considerably at different times of the year, or even different times of the day.

When you’re making a MOD tax refund claim, HMRC will want every detail you can throw at them, so keeping complete records is critical. If you haven’t got fundamental paperwork like receipts, it’s tricky to get the taxman to reach into his pocket. Worse still, claiming without proper evidence to back up your expenses is an incredibly bad idea. Spot-check enquiries from HMRC are a nightmare, so RIFT will never claim a penny that we can’t prove you’re owed. That’s how we keep both your money and you completely safe.

Of course, with MyRIFT, all those crucial details are simple to track, amend and update. Wherever in the world you are, you can fill in the costs you're paying as you go. With that information securely stored, we'll be able to build a complete picture of what HMRC owes you.

MOD Tax Refunds

Do I need to keep my Assignment Orders?

Yes, definitely! These are very important documents and the cornerstone evidence for putting your tax refund claim together. Try to keep a copy of your Assignment Orders for every base you’ve travelled to. If you’ve got gaps in your record, you can print your orders off from JPA as long as you do it within 60 days.

See our checklist of the documents needed for your claim. If you’re missing anything, RIFT can help fill in the blanks for you.

Checklist Document

Keeping records

Why do I need to provide wage slips?

HMRC’s going to want to see a thorough breakdown of your travel costs before coughing up your refund. Your wage slips show whether you've already received any expenses toward your travel. Since you’re only owed a refund on costs you’ve actually paid out yourself, any expenses you’ve received will bring down what you’re owed by HMRC. If you’ve received nothing toward your travel, your wage slips will prove this.

Keeping records

What if I haven't got my wage slips or P60's?

Don’t stress out too much if you don’t have these to hand. You can download your wage slips from the JPAC website and RIFT can get your P60s straight from HMRC for you.

Keeping records

How should I keep my records for my fuel tax rebate?

HMRC expects you to keep spotless records when you claim an Armed Forces tax refund. One of the best ways to do this is with a log book, which you can get from RIFT. Whenever you’re travelling to and from temporary postings of under 24 months, make a point of recording your mileage in your book. It pays to be thorough and systematic when you’re dealing with the taxman, and you’ll be glad you were when your refund rolls in. Making a note of the mileage on your vehicle’s clock is a great idea, so remember to check it at both ends of your journeys. Alternatively, to keep things super-simple, just keep notes of the postcodes or addresses instead and leave the mileage calculations to us.

If log books are a little old-fashioned for you, your free, online MyRIFT account is an even better way to keep all your travel and other information up to date in real time. At any time and from anywhere in the world, you can log in to check details, update information and even upload photographs of important documents straight into your account.

Remember that not every mile you put under your wheels will count toward your military refund claim. Knowing which journeys count and which don’t is the key to keeping out trouble with HMRC, while still getting the most out of your claim. With RIFT keeping you covered, you’ll always know you and your tax refund are protected.

Specialist Team

RIFT Armed Forces Team

At RIFT, many members of our Armed Forces teams come from MOD backgrounds and families.  We understand the many unique challenges of Armed Forces life, and know the demands it places on you. The MOD’s rules around Armed forces tax refund claims are complex in places, but our specialists’ understanding of them is always up to date and to-the-letter. We know your time is valuable, so we’re here for you all year round, whenever you need us.

Use our free online military tax refund calculator for an instant estimate of what you could claim.

Refer A Friend

Extra cash for you and your mates

Help your mates get their tax refund and get extra cash in your own pocket! 

At RIFT, we love it when happy clients tell their friends about us. We love it so much that we’re rewarding you for doing it!

We'll give you £50 for every friend you refer (T&Cs apply) that claims with us, plus we'll give you a £150 bonus when 5 people claim with us.

Simply tell us about your friend using our Refer a Friend form and we’ll get in touch to let them know you think they might have a claim.

Refer a Friend

MOD Tax Refunds

Can I claim a UK tax refund if I'm posted overseas?

When you’re travelling for work, you're entitled to a UK tax refund for your expenses to and from temporary workplaces. If you're making your own way overseas from a UK residence, you could have a pretty big refund claim on your hands. Watch out, though - if your family has moved abroad with you, then your main residence might be outside the UK. In that case, you can't claim for your travel costs.

Find out everything you need to know about paying UK tax if you work overseas on our site, or get in touch by phone or email for expert advice and information.

MOD Tax Refunds

What costs can I reclaim tax for?

If you've been using your own vehicle or public transport, you could be owed tax back.

An average MOD refund comes to around £800 per year.

Travel to bases outside the UK counts too.

You might even be able to claim for Mess Dress.

You can get an estimate of what you could claim back using our military tax calculator. It takes barely a minute to complete and gives you an instant figure.

Preparing for deployment

I'm about to be deployed, what do I need to do?

Being deployed away from home means making sure your finances are taken care of. Most importantly, you'll need a plan for looking after the people you're leaving behind. Having your salary paid into an account they have access to might be a good move, for instance. You could use a joint account or set up temporary access for them through a “third party mandate” form. Check with your bank to see what your best option is.

While you're at it, you might want to arrange an overdraft on your account for safety. Overdrafts can be are a bit of a double-edged sword if you find yourself relying on them, but in a pinch it’s better to have one you don’t need than not to have one you do. This is particularly true if you won’t able to keep close tabs on your money while you're away. Setting up Direct Debits for any bills you usually take care of yourself is a smart move, too. Whatever financial decisions you make, be sure to talk them all through with the people they affect.

Other things to consider:

  • Setting up a will or power of attorney.
  • Deciding what to do with your car if it's not coming with you. Either make sure it's taxed and insured or get a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN).
  • Check that your Personal Accident and Service Life insurance are all set up properly.

Food Tax Refunds

Can MOD Personnel claim a tax rebate for meals?

Meals are allowed as expenses when you're posted to a temporary base, and you should definitely be claiming for them. On average, a yearly MOD tax refund claim includes around £250 from meal expenses alone! Claiming a tax rebate against those costs could boost your tax refund by as much as 35%, which stacks up to about £12,000 over a typical working life!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re paying by cash in a Cookhouse or Mess, the odds are you won’t have much in the way of receipts. You should still keep records, though. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a simple photo of a menu board could make to your refund at the end of the tax year.
  • Officers sometimes have the option of an expenses receipt at the end of the month. Again, even a photo of this uploaded to your MyRIFT account could be a major boost to your tax refund claim. If you can keep hold of your receipts or get copies from your administration department, that’s great too.
  • If you’re on the Hungry Soldier scheme, the cost comes directly out of your salary in arrears. Keep hold of your payslips so you always have this information on hand.
  • Exactly what you can claim for will always vary according to your circumstances. Talk to RIFT to find out exactly what you qualify for.
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MOD Commitment Bonus

What's an MOD Commitment bonus?

If you've completed a set number of years in the service as a non-commissioned regular, you might qualify for a Commitment Bonus. The bonus scheme you're on will depend on the date you joined up. Generally, you can choose to take your bonus either in stages or as a lump sum later on. The longer you wait, the more you stand to get. As always, there are a few hoops to jump through to get your bonus - and some tax implications to think about, since it can bump your year's income up quite a bit.

After the 1st of April 2021, the whole Commitment Bonus system's coming to an end, so make the most of it while you can!

MOD Commitment Bonus

Does my Commitment Bonus affect my MOD tax refund?

Not necessarily. A lot of people seem to think that Commitment Bonuses are tax deductible and that you can claim some kind of refund back for them. Sadly, that's just not true. However, you’ve got to remember that the taxman will still want to know about your bonus. It still counts as taxable income in HMRC's eyes, meaning they'll still want their bite of it.

Here’s where things get slightly tricky. Depending on your basic salary, your Commitment Bonus could actually boost you into a higher tax bracket for the year. That might sound a little painful, but it could make a big difference to the tax you can claim back. If you go over the threshold, you could start seeing some of your refund paid out at the higher 40% rate instead of the basic 20% one. However the numbers shake out, RIFT will always steer you right and get you back everything you're entitled to.

MOD Tax Rebates

Can Reservists and Territorial Army personnel claim?

The HMRC rules for travel tax refunds say that you need to be travelling to temporary workplaces to qualify. Reservists and Territorial Army personnel tend to spend most of their service in one place, so they’re not usually eligible to claim.

That said, everyone’s circumstances are different, so there’s still a possibility that you’re owed some tax back. If you’re not sure where you stand, RIFT can always look into it for you – and we won’t charge a penny for it. That’s right - it costs you nothing at all to find out whether you have a claim. Just answer 4 simple questions to take the first step toward your Armed Forces tax rebate. They take less than a minute to complete and could be worth thousands of pounds for up to 4 years’ worth of military refund claims.

Find out if you need to complete a HMRC Self Assessment Tax Return or if you can claim Flat Rate Expenses.

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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