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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Repayments: claims made outside a return: introduction

This section is concerned only with claims that arise in the circumstances described below. Section ‘Issue Repayment’ and business area ‘Permanent Cessation’ provides further information on other types of in-year repayment claims. 


The general rule under SA is that, unless otherwise provided, any claim relating to a period for which a return has been issued must be made by inclusion in that return. This rule also applies to claims made after the return has been filed because, whenever possible, such claims must be made by amending the return.

Subject to any provision of the Taxes Acts prescribing a longer or shorter period, claims must be made within 4 years following the end of the tax year to which the claim relates. This means that there will be occasions when a taxpayer is still within time to make a claim but is no longer within time to amend his / her return.

Claims outside a return (‘stand-alone’ claims) can only be made in the following circumstances

  • The taxpayer is not within SA and does not receive a return
  • The taxpayer is within SA but has not yet received a return for the year and wants to make a claim to receive relief in his or her PAYE code
  • The time limit for notifying amendments to the return has passed but the taxpayer wants to make a new claim or amend a claim already made in the return
  • The taxpayer makes a claim for loss relief or pension relief (including retirement annuity relief) which relates to two or more years. For example, a carry-back claim.

If the return has been issued then any claim, other than a claim to carry back loss relief or relief for pension contributions, should be made in the return. If the taxpayer makes a ‘stand alone’ claim (other than for losses or pension contributions to be carried back) for a year for which a return has been issued, but before filing the return, you should send the claim back and explain that it can only be made as part of the return.

Although not part of a return, a ‘stand alone’ claim will be subject to the same ‘Process Now, Check Later’ regime that applies to returns. You do not require documentary evidence in support of ‘stand alone’ claims. If you subsequently enquire into the claim you should ask to see evidence at that point.

Note: The ‘Process Now, Check Later’ regime does not apply to ‘Error or Mistake relief’ claims which should be dealt with in accordance with SACM12000 onwards. These claims may require further enquiries before relief is given.

‘Stand alone’ claims may relate to individuals or trusts. In partnership cases, each individual partner must make a personal claim, the nominated partner cannot make the claim on their behalf.

Giving effect to stand alone claims

Unless you intend to open an enquiry into a claim, you must give effect to it as soon as is practicable. This may mean that

  • Tax is set-off or repaid
  • Coding adjustments are made to reduce or repay tax through PAYE
  • In the case of a partnership, a set-off or repayment of tax is made for each partner

Where a claim is under enquiry the action required to give effect to the claim need not be taken until the enquiry is complete. However, the Enquiry Officer has the discretion to give effect to the claim, in whole or in part, on a provisional basis, pending completion of the enquiry.

‘Stand alone’ claims can be divided into two categories - those which involve one year only and those involving two or more years.

‘Stand alone’ claims involving one year only will comprise

  • In-year claims to allowances and reliefs for the current year where the taxpayer wishes to obtain relief by way of a PAYE coding adjustment
  • Claims for earlier years made after the time limit for amending the return for the year has expired

The means of giving relief for ‘stand alone’ claims involving two or more years is described in subjects ‘Claims: Carry Back of Losses/Pension Contributions’ (SAM114010) and ‘Claims: Involving Two or More Years’ (SAM114060).