Student working over the summer? How to reclaim overpaid tax

10 August 2017
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Students, like all others, have to pay tax on their earnings if they exceed £11,500 a year as of 6 April 2017.

But if you’re working alongside your school or university education or you’ve got a part-time job for the summer holidays or a paid internship, you will most likely be taxed via PAYE (Pay As You Earn), which automatically charges tax on earnings regardless of how much you earn.

This means you may need to reclaim the tax if your earnings fall below the minimum £11,500 annual requirement.

Claiming a tax refund is fairly simple. Here’s what you need to know.

How to claim a tax rebate when you’ve stopped working

If you’re only working over the summer holidays and you stop working to go back to studying, and you’re not going to work again for at least four weeks, you can fill in a P50 form to claim a tax refund.

This can be found on Gov.uk and you can apply online or by post. You can’t claim a tax refund using a P50 form if you’re in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance, taxable incapacity benefit, employment and support allowance or carer’s allowance.

How to claim a tax rebate when you’re still in work

If you’re working over the summer but plan to work when you go back to your studies too, here’s how to claim a tax refund if you’re earning under £11,500 a year.

For the 2017 to 2018 tax year: Check if your tax code is correct. Your tax code, which can be found on your payslips, will normally start with a number and end with a letter. 1150L is the tax code currently used for most people who have one job or a pension.

If your tax code doesn’t seem right or is incorrect, you need to tell HMRC; either by phoning it on 0300 200 3300 or 0300 200 3319, or alternatively, you can write to HMRC at HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS, United Kingdom.  

Once your tax code has been corrected, your employer will refund you the overpaid tax in your pay.

For the 2016 to 2017 tax year: You can only claim your money back when your tax for the year has been calculated, which takes place between June and October. HMRC will post you a P800 tax calculation if it calculates you’ve paid too much tax. The P800 will tell you how you’ll get your refund. P800s are issued after the tax year ends on 5 April. You’ll normally get yours by the end of October and it shows the income you have paid tax on.

For the 2015 to 2016, 2014 to 2015, and 2013 to 2014 tax years: You can claim online via HMRC. To do this you will need your employer’s PAYE reference number, which you will find on your P60, in addition to the details of any income that has been taxed.

Alternatively, call or write to HMRC using the contact details listed above and explain why you think you’ve overpaid. You’ll need your national insurance number, details of the jobs you had, and your P45, if you have one.

In this instance, HMRC will usually send you a cheque within five weeks, but this timeframe can vary. If you are expecting a payment directly to your bank account, you should receive it within five working days.

What self-employed students need to know about tax

Self-employed students also do not need to pay tax on earnings of less than £11,500, but they must ensure they are registered as self-employed. You have to register by 5 October in your business’s second tax year. You could be fined if you don’t.

You also need to fill in a self-assessment tax return each year stating your income and expenses, which HMRC will use to calculate how much tax you need to pay. 

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