How far can HMRC go back? How many years back can a taxpayer appeal?

Time limits for assessments by HMRC

From 1 April 2010 the time limits for assessments and claims changed. This also applies to tax repayment claims.

All these limits apply from the end of the chargeable period.


Normal time limit (years)

Careless behaviour (years)

Deliberate behaviour (years)

Capital Gains Tax




Corporation Tax




Income Tax
















Repayment claims – PAYE

The following tables show the deadlines for taxpayers under  PAYE:

Self Assessment taxpayers  


Tax year you want to claim tax back

Deadline for claims

SA taxpayers

PAYE & other taxpayers


5 April 2012


5 April 2013
2009-10 5 April 2014
2010-11 5 April 2015
2011-12  5 April 2016
2012-13 5 April 2017
2013-14 5 April 2018
2014-15 5 April 2019
2015-16 5 April 2020

PAYE refunds out of time: Extra-statutory Concession B41

HMRC has the discretion to make repayments out of time under ESC B41:

‘...repayments of tax will be made in respect of claims made outside the statutory time limit where an over-payment of tax has arisen because of an error by the Inland Revenue [now HMRC] or another Government Department, and where there is no dispute or doubt as to the facts.’ 

Error or mistake relief

Overpayment Relief replaces Error or Mistake Relief and repayment claims are limited to four years. A special relief exists (see below) which can provide relief in cases where the taxpayer is out of time for appeal.

The above time limits do not affect:

  • Periods already out of date under the old time limits
  • The time limits for making enquiries into SA or CTSA returns
  • The time limits for making penalty determinations for direct tax
  • The time limits for assessing Class 1, 1A and 2 National Insurance Contributions, or
  • The two-year rule and the evidence of facts rules for VAT assessments

The normal time limit for most assessments and determinations is four years from the end of the relevant tax period, there are however many variations from this norm according to HMRC. 

Special relief: out of time appeals against determinations and penalties

A special statutory relief exists in cases where it would be unconscionable for HMRC to seek to recover an amount of tax or refuse repayment (if already paid). This relief only applies where HMRC has made a determination of tax due and provided certain defined circumstances are met, see Special Relief.

More details

The tables of time limits in the appendices of HMRC's Compliance Handbook give a full summary.

For more information see the Compliance Handbook chapter 50000.