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tax relief

Strict time limits apply to claims by individuals and businesses for tax deductions and reliefs. What are the key dates you need to know to ensure you don’t lose your entitlement to them?

The general rule

The general time limit for claiming tax deductions and reliefs was shortened in 2010, when it was reduced to five and then four years, which is where it stands now. There are exceptions, and these are clearly signposted by HMRC in its guidance. For example, claims for tax relief on pre-trading expenses extends the general time limit to seven years. Conversely, the time limit for relief for trading losses can be as little as two years.

Tip. If in doubt about time limits check HMRC’s guidance on the relief in question. If no special time limit is mentioned, the general one applies.

Making a claim in practice

Generally, if you’ve submitted a tax return for the year for which you want to claim a further relief or deduction, you can either amend the tax return or make an overpayment relief claim.

Tip. Nearly all reliefs or deductions can be claimed either on a standalone basis in writing, or through your or your business’s self-assessment tax return.

Amending a personal self-assessment

If you’ve submitted a tax return and want to amend the figures by making or increasing a claim for relief, tax deduction, e.g. job expenses, or claiming an allowance, e.g. the marriage allowance, you have one year from the normal filing date for the tax return, i.e. one year after 31 January following the end of the tax year. For example, the deadline for amending your 2021/22 tax return is 31 January 2024. HMRC may extend this at its discretion, e.g. where it is making enquiries into a tax return for an earlier year.

Amending a company self-assessment

The rules for companies follow a similar timetable as that for personal self-assessment returns. The deadline is one year from the normal filing date of the return. For example, for an accounting period ended on 31 March 2022, the deadline is 31 March 2024.

Overpayment relief

If you miss the self-assessment amendment deadline you can instead make an overpayment relief claim. You can make this type of claim at any time within the general (four-year) time limit. For example, a claim for overpayment relief for 2019/20 must reach HMRC by 5 April 2024. In practice you should, where possible, not leave your claim to the eleventh hour as this could lead to trouble.

Trap. The format of your claim must meet the requirements set out in law otherwise HMRC can reject it. If you send your claim shortly before the deadline and HMRC rejects it, you might have insufficient or no time in which to submit it in the correct format. Tip. An overpayment claim must be in writing and signed by you and not your accountant (see The next step ).

If you overlook a tax deduction or relief which results in your tax bill being too high, you can amend it within a limited time; normally about two years from the end of the tax year or accounting period. After that, you can claim overpayment relief within four years from the end of the tax year (individuals) or accounting period (companies) to which the claim relates.

This article has been reproduced by kind permission of Indicator – FL Memo Ltd. For details of their tax-saving products please visit or call 01233 653500.

28th Nov 2023 13:13

tax relief

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