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Time Runs Out for Tax Claims

Newsletter issue - March 2010.

For as many years as we can remember individuals have had six years from the end of the tax year to claim most allowances and tax reliefs in respect of that tax year, (some tax claims have to be made within two years). That long claims period was shortened to five years from 31 January following the end of the tax year when self-assessment was introduced in 1996/97, but that change meant the loss of just two months. Now the long claims period is changing to four years from the end of the tax year with effect for claims submitted from 1 April 2010.

Thus claims and elections for the tax years 2004/05 and 2005/06 need to be made by 31 March 2010 and 5 April 2010 respectively. Such claims could include an error or mistake claim where tax has been overpaid, claims for personal allowances for marriage, age or blindness, and a number of capital gains tax reliefs.

Confusingly these new claims periods do not apply to everyone from the same date. If you have only recently come within the self assessment system, but you want to make a claim for an earlier year when you were taxed only under PAYE, you will have a further two years to make the claim. For example, claims from PAYE taxpayers for the tax year 2004/05 run out of time on 31 January 2011.

The long claims period for limited companies is also changing from six years from the end of the accounting period, to four years from the end of the accounting period, for claims submitted on and after 1 April 2010. Thus claims for accounting periods that end between 31 March 2004 and 31 March 2006 all need to reach the Tax Office by 31 March 2010.

The period during which the Taxman can normally raise a tax bill for a particular tax year has also been cut back to four years from the end of that year. However, where the extra tax is due because the taxpayer has made a careless or deliberate error, the Taxman has six years, extending to 20 years for deliberate errors, to raise the tax bill.

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