Online adverts and tax refund companies often suggest claiming work expenses as a hassle-free way to reduce your tax bill.
Some people are eligible for tax rebates. But there are also so-called ‘tax experts’ who will offer to make expense claims on your behalf, just so they can claim a commission – even if it turns out you aren’t eligible to claim.
We’ll help you understand what you can and cannot claim tax relief for. If you’re eligible, we’ll also advise how you can claim with us directly. This will mean you get paid 100% of any money that you’re owed, without paying any commission fees.
Remember, you are still responsible for any claims made on your behalf, even if you choose to use a tax refund company or tax agent.
Why not claim it yourself to skip any agent fees?
It’s fast, free and simple to claim work expenses with us directly via GOV.UK.
You won’t have to pay any agent fees or commission, so you’ll keep every penny of what you’re due.
Remember – if in doubt, do it yourself.
Recognise: Learn to spot the signs of bad advice
Is it too good to be true?
If someone promises easy money and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Handing over your personal information could mean you end up having to pay back the full amount of any invalid claim made on your behalf, including any commission an agent has already taken.
Protect: Do your research
Before using a tax refund company or tax agent for rebates, take your time and do some research (click to expand):
Read Mike’s story
Mike is a healthcare worker. A colleague suggests they use a uniform expense refund company to claim some money back from HMRC.
On the company’s website he uses a refund calculator which indicates he can claim £4,000 back from HMRC in work-related expenses.
The company later takes £1,600 of fees from the £4,000 refund paid by HMRC. Although surprised by the sizable fee, Mike’s still pleased about the extra cash.
A year later, HMRC informs him he wasn’t eligible for the expenses claimed on his behalf – and that he must pay back the full £4,000, plus interest.
Shocked and annoyed, Mike realises he can’t reclaim the £1,600 fee from the company because he signed a ‘third-party agreement’.
Ultimately, he is responsible for his own tax affairs, even though he used a company to claim on his behalf.
After speaking to HMRC, Mike realises there were some red flags that the company just wanted to bag a commission, without checking if he was eligible to make a claim.
For a start, the company never asked him to show any receipts as evidence of work costs. They also never confirmed what expenses they were claiming for on his behalf.
Mike wishes he’d paid closer attention so he didn’t get caught out by bad tax advice.
Mike now reminds colleagues to always check they’re eligible for work-related expenses with HMRC online before claiming anything, even if they use a tax refund company.
These stories are hypothetical and created for illustrative purposes, but they are based on real experiences. Any similarities to an individual are purely coincidental.
Reach out: Ask us for help to get back on track
If you’ve used a tax refund company and think they might have made an ineligible tax refund on your behalf, get in touch so we can help.
Some of the most common invalid claims include:
- Claiming expenses for travelling to and from your normal place of work. You cannot claim commuting costs.
- Claiming for lunch costs when you are travelling to your normal workplace. You can only claim expenses for food and drink when travelling to a temporary place of work.
- Claiming expenses for uniforms, work clothing or tools that have already been provided by an employer. This includes choosing to purchase “better quality” alternatives to those provided by your employer – this is not an eligible expense claim as it is a personal choice.
To correct a tax refund claim please contact us through the Income Tax: general enquiries page on GOV.UK.
Tell us what you think
We want to hear your views about the information on this page, and on GOV.UK, so we can improve the quality and relevance of the information we provide in future.
This survey will take around 5 minutes to complete. Responses are anonymous – you will not be asked to provide any personal information that will identify you.