What is a tax return

HM Revenue and Customs may issue you a tax return.  You are legally obliged to complete this.  It is a form to:

  • report your taxable income and capital gains if appropriate

  • claim allowances and tax reliefs.

HMRC uses the information on your tax return to work out what tax you owe them or if you are entitled to a tax refund.

Should you complete a tax return

If you are paid wages or salary and receive a payslip, or an occupational pension, you will not receive a tax return request.

However, HMRC will issue one if you:

  • are self-employed

  • are a company director (but not if you are a director of a not-for-profit company)

  • have rental or other income from property (unless it is less than a certain amount and can be dealt with through a PAYE tax code)

  • have other income which is not taxed before you get it and the tax cannot be collected through the PAYE system

  • have to pay extra tax because your household receives Child Benefit and someone in your household has a large taxable income.

If you are a pensioner

Most pensioners do not fill in tax returns. However, tax-free allowances for people born before 6 April 1948 are affected by annual income over a certain amount, so a tax return may sometimes be necessary.

If you have not received a tax return

It's your responsibility to inform HMRC that you have received income on which tax is payable.  If you have not received a tax return but you think you should fill one in, phone HMRC and ask for a return to be sent to you. Do not wait for HMRC to contact you. If you send in the tax return late, you may have to pay:

  • interest on any tax paid late, and

  • a penalty.

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