PLEASE NOTE: The charity TaxAid advises only those people on low incomes whose problems cannot be resolved with HMRC.

Tax refund scams

Income Tax

Most people would welcome a tax refund; but some unscrupulous organisations and individuals try to steal money from people by offering fake refunds. So how can you tell the genuine from the fake?

Emails which appear to come from HMRC

HMRC will never send you an email telling you that you are due a tax refund. So if you get an email about a tax refund, it will not be from HMRC.

In  addition, HMRC will never ask for personal or payment information by email.

So if you get an email about a tax refund and it appears to be from HMRC, then it is going to be a fake.

HMRC has collated some examples of fake refund emails, and you can download the HMRC guide to phishing and bogus emails from the  HMRC website pages.

Some of these fake emails are very sophisticated and even contain the HMRC logo and colours.

Email and letters which are not from HMRC

Some fraudsters send emails purporting to be from reputable organisations such as the Post Office. These invite you to click on a link. The link will usually take you to a fraudulent website where you are asked to enter your bank account or payment card details. This information can then be used to steal money from your account.

There are more suggestions on how to protect yourself and how to inform HMRC about a potential scams on the Gov.uk website.

Firms which offer to get you a tax refund

Some firms will offer to obtain a tax refund for you. While some of these firms may be genuine, others may submit inaccurate refund claims to HMRC on your behalf. They often charge a fee based on the size of the refund. Unfortunately, if the refund claim is incorrect, HMRC may initially pay the refund, but ask for it back later . By this stage you may have spent the money and paid the firm. It is not essential to have a firm to obtain a refund for you, but if you do, be very careful that the firm is reputable.  See ‘Choosing an adviser‘ for guidance.