Now that the 2023/24 financial year has been and gone, reviewing our data, we can relieve that the average taxpayer could be owed as much as £1,562 by HMRC, with this total having increased by 6.6% over the last year alone. 

Average tax refund climbs 6% in the last year

Our latest data shows that in 2023, the average tax rebate owed by HMRC came in at £1,562, a 6.1% increase versus the previous year.

However, what many people don’t realise is that it’s not only possible to claim a tax refund for the last tax year, but you can back-date this claim for up to the last four years, with the average four year refund currently sitting at £3,000.

With the 2023/24 financial year having now come to an end as of 5th April this year, it means that anyone who hasn’t claimed a tax refund for the 2019/20 financial year is now unable to do so. But they are still well within their rights to claim for the last four tax years before next year’s April deadline.

Why might HMRC owe you money?

You may be owed a tax refund for a range of reasons, such as overpaying tax via PAYE, however, the most common reasons are for expenses incurred while working. These can range from fuel costs to accommodation, as well as any work related uniform expenses incurred. 

While anyone could be owed a tax refund, some of the most common sectors include the armed forces, those working either offshore or in construction, as well as those working within the security sector. 

Construction workers owed the largest refunds

In fact, in 2023 it was construction workers who were owed the most by HMRC, with the average one year tax refund claim coming in at £1,125, having increased by 3.7% year on year. 

Those working in the security sector also saw the average one year claim climb by 3.9% to an average of £846, while the average one year claim for the armed forces also exceeded £800.

While offshore workers received the lowest amount for a one year claim, the average worker still secured a tax refund to the tune of £753 from HMRC in 2023. 

Unfortunately, HMRC isn’t as quick to return money as it is to take it and the tax refund process can be a laborious, complicated and confusing one. That’s why professional tax refund agents, such as RIFT, are on hand to help. 

RIFT has been helping UK taxpayers with their tax refund since 1999, helping over 140,000 workers claim back over £300m from HMRC. Picking the right agent is key and it’s always important to be aware of any fees you will be charged before you begin the process.

Bradley Post, CEO of RIFT Tax Refunds, commented:

Despite a drop in inflation, the cost of living remains a substantial obstacle for many to overcome on a month to month basis and households across the nation are yet to see the cost of their monthly outgoings drop. 

What many don’t know is that they could be owed a sizable refund from HMRC and what’s more, this refund can be back-dated for up to four years. 

So while this year’s tax deadline has been and gone, there’s still time to apply ahead of next year to ensure you don’t miss out on another year’s refund, a refund which is rightfully yours.

Category 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 est* 1 yr change £ 1 yr change %
Construction PAYE - Avg 1 year PAYE construction claim (past 12 months) £931 £980 £1,010 £1,085 £1,125 £40 3.7%
Security - Avg 1 year security claim (past 12 months) £687 £738 £775 £815 £846 £31 3.9%
MOD - Avg 1 year MOD claim (past 12 months) £768 £806 £831 £839 £836 -£3 -0.3%
Offshore - Avg 1 year offshore claim (past 12 months) £618 £648 £771 £827 £753 -£73 -8.9%
Average (geomean) refund amount in last 12 months £1,481 £1,535 £1,432 £1,465 £1,562 £97 6.6%

*Estimate based on latest available data of three quarters to Q3 2023

**Refunds subject to fees of 36%. Exclusions apply. Contact HMRC for free tax refund requests and advice.