Are you missing out on money?
Six ways to claim what’s owed to you
Got a spare hour or two for a bit of simple admin?
Life’s hectic enough, we know, and double-checking tax codes is nobody’s idea of fun, even on the soggiest Sunday afternoon.
But just a couple of hours checking details of some of your key personal finances could help save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Because when it comes to our taxes and entitlements, lots of us are losing out.
We often (wrongly) assume we’re in the right tax bracket, think we’re aware of any financial help on offer, or believe some perks and refunds are too tricky to figure out.
Which means plenty of us are paying more than we should and getting less than we’re owed.
So here are six easy checks which could save you loads of cash – a brilliant example of taking control of your Moneyverse. Free money? No, it’s your money.
1. Make WFH work for you, with up to £125 a year tax relief
If you’ve had no choice but to work at home due to Covid, you could get up to £125 a year back in tax relief thanks to the Government
How much you’ll get depends on your income tax rate.
As it’s based on a standard £6-a-week tax relief, it means you’ll get 20% of this if you’re a basic-rate payer – £62.40 a year. Higher-rate tax-payers can claim £2.40 a week, or £124.80 a year.
It can be backdated too. So if Covid meant you were told to work at home at any point between April 2020 and March 2021 and also since April 2021, you can claim for both tax years.
To see if you’re eligible and apply, head over to a dedicated Government website and answer a few quick questions.
2. Save up to £1,220 just for being married (happily we hope)
Here’s a handy perk for couples in a marriage or civil partnership. If one of you doesn’t earn enough to pay tax while the other is a basic-rate taxpayer, you could save hundreds each year.
How does it work? Say you’re the lower earner, bringing home less than £12,570 a year. If your other half earns between £12,571 and £50,270 (£43,662 in Scotland), then the marriage tax allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your annual personal tax allowance to them. Not having to pay 20% tax on that extra £1,260 means they’ll save £252 a year (in the 2021/22 tax year).
Even better, you can backdate your claim to 6 April 2017 if you make the claim now, assuming both of you meet all the criteria. All in all, your partner could be looking at getting back £1,220.
Reckon you’re eligible? You can find full details and apply on gov.uk.
3. Consider a council tax refund (but think of your neighbours first)
Council tax is one of those bills where we tend to set up a regular payment, and then forget all about it. But is your home in the right tax band? If it’s not, you could pay hundreds of pounds less each year – and be in line for an even bigger refund.
There are a fair few hoops to jump through, but Moneysavingexpert has a fantastic guide that takes you through every step. Some people have claimed almost £8,000 back – definitely not to be sniffed at.
You’ll need to do a bit of research to find out whether it’s worth challenging your band. A word of warning: you can’t ask for it to be lowered. Rather, you can only ask for it to be ‘reassessed’ – which means there’s a chance you could end up paying more. And it’s very rare but you could even land your neighbours with bigger bills if it’s decided that they’re the ones in the wrong tax band. Awkward, to say the very least.
4. Student debt refund? The next round’s on you
The Student Loans Company is sitting on more than £18 million of overpayments – could some of that cash be yours? You might be due a refund for one of a few reasons: maybe you accidentally carried on paying after clearing your debt, started paying too early or you’ve been charged the wrong amount.
It’s estimated that tens of thousands of graduates are still owed money, often hundreds of pounds. To see if you’re one of them, just call the Student Loans Company with your customer reference number to hand and explain your circumstances.
5. A tidy tax break for tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors – and more
Do you wear a uniform or protective clothing to work? If so, you could claim tax relief on the cost of cleaning, repairing or replacing it. You’ll need to be an employee and paying for these costs out of your own pocket.
Here’s an example: if you’re a catering worker, you can claim a flat-rate deduction of £60 a year for the cost of cleaning, repairing or replacing your uniform. If you pay basic rate (20%) tax in that year, you’ll lighten your tax bill by £12. All you need to do is apply online at gov.uk. You can instead claim for the exact amount you spend but for this, you’ll need to keep your receipts and make a claim by post.
Admittedly it won’t save you heaps of cash but it’s still worth doing. With a huge list of eligible occupations, you’re sure to know someone who may appreciate this tip.
6. Crack your tax code so you don’t pay too much (or too little)
If your job situation changed recently – maybe you got a new role, switched to part-time, stopped working or opened a pension – you could be paying too much tax. Being on the wrong tax code is surprisingly common as admin errors can unfortunately creep in. Taking a few minutes to check could save you a lot of money – or save you from a nasty surprise down the line. Yes, it’s possible you could be underpaying too. If so, it’s best to find out as soon as you can.
The easiest way to check is use the Government’s online income tax service. You’ll need to sign up for a free account and have your National Insurance number and previous payslips to hand. If it turns out you’ve been paying too much, you can get a refund backdated up to four years. And, of course, it means you’ll pay the right amount in future.
Barclays does not provide financial, legal or tax advice. Accordingly, nothing contained within this article should be construed as constituting legal, financial or tax advice. Tax rules and legislation can change and the benefits and drawbacks of a particular tax treatment will vary with individual circumstances. We recommend that you take professional advice where required. You have sole responsibility for the management of your respective tax, financial and legal affairs, including making any applicable filings and payments and complying with any applicable laws and regulations.