What are the time limits for claiming a tax refund?

How far can HMRC go back and raise an assessment?

How many years back can a taxpayer appeal?

What are the time limits for correcting a tax return?

What are the time limits for tax?

  • HMRC and taxpayers have a limit on the amount of time that they are given in order raise assessments or make a claim for a refund or make a claim or correction to a tax return.
  • HMRC's normal time limit for making an enquiry into a tax return that has been filed on time is one year from the filing deadline.
  • HMRC has more time to enquire into returns if the conditions for a Discovery Assessment are met.

Refunds, claims and discovery assessment

  • All these limits apply from the end of the chargeable period.
  • The general rule is that a refund or repayment cannot be climed more than 4 years after the end of the relevant tax year
  • For example: if you are claiming a refund for the 2017/18 tax year, you add 4 years to 2018. You must make your claim by 5 April 2022.


Normal time limit (a)(years)

Careless behaviour (b)(years)

Deliberate behaviour (c)(years)

Capital Gains Tax




Corporation Tax




Income Tax
















(a) The normal 4 year time limit applies for assessment, refunds and claims.

(b) HMRC may go back and assess the previous 6 years if that taxpayer's failure to self assess correctly was due to careless behaviour.

(c) In cases of deliberate behaviour (i.e. fraud) HMRC may raise assessments for the previous 20 years.

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
2016-17 5 April 2021
2017-18 5 April 2022
2018-19 5 April 2023

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.’ 

Corporation Tax

Time limits are set according to accounting periods, see HMRC Corporation Tax timelimits.

Error or mistake relief

Overpayment 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.