Completing Your P85 Tax Form

If your work visa has finished and it’s time to say goodbye to the UK (sob), it’s possible to claim an in-year tax repayment a.k.a. an early refund on income tax you didn’t need to pay. This simple form will only take you a few short minutes to fill out, and will save you waiting until the end of the year to get those few hundred pounds in your hot little hands.

Once again, I failed at getting the system to successfully provide me with a functioning Government Gateway ID and password (grr) but I completed the postal form easily enough, and will guide you through the process with this experience. 


You can complete a P85 form if: 

  • You’ve lived and worked in the UK
  • You’re leaving for good, or more than one complete tax year (April to April)
  • You’re not filling out a Self Assessment tax return for your final year in the UK


What you’ll need

  • Your most recent P45 (I explain what that is here)
  • A postal address for your cheque (what century is this?)


Let’s get started…


Determine your UK Residency Status

Head to the gov.uk website and follow the guidance in the “RDR3 Statutory Residence Test” to work out if you’re resident or non-resident in the UK for the current tax year.

This will have implications for who you pay tax to. 

If you’re deemed resident in the UK in that year, you may have to pay the HMRC tax on any income you earn in your home country up until the 5th of April (the end of the UK tax year). For example if you return home in February and go back to work in your old physiotherapy job, the HMRC will calculate your income tax owed based on your income in the UK AND the income you earn in your home country up until the 5th of April.

Does this mean you’re taxed twice? Generally no. Keep in mind that your home country may have a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with the UK, which ensures you don’t pay tax twice (which I try to explain in this article). Find out about your country’s DTA at the gov.uk website.

If you’re deemed non-resident, you won’t pay any tax on your earnings outside the UK. Simple.


Filling in your P85 form

If you managed to wade your way through that, then you can move on to actually filling out the P85. As I said I used the print and post form, which you can see below:

About you

Hopefully you can easily answer all these questions without my help.


This is where you’ll need to use the Statutory Residence test to determine whether or not you are/were/will continue to be resident in the UK


Because the P85 is a dynamic online form, it changes according to the buttons you click which makes it a little tricky for me to give you a comprehensive guide through all the options here.

I think you get the picture though.

If you don’t yet know who you’ll be working for when you leave the UK, just write “unknown” for the employers name and estimate your start date and weekly work hours.

As you can see they are trying to determine your residency status based on the dates you provide, so just answer as honestly as you can at this point in time.


As far as I’ve been able to work out, there won’t be an option to have your refund paid into your bank account (unlike your P87 refund).

A little archaic if you ask me, but that’s the way the system works. Just ensure you provide a reliable postal address so your cheque makes it to you safely, wherever you are in the world.


Finally, print, sign, and attach the relevant pages of your P45.

Pop it all into an envelope and snail mail it off to the HMRC.

And that’s it. Not a hard ask for a few hundred pounds!

Once I’ve received my return I’ll be able to fill you in on how smoothly the rest of the process works.

For now I’m keeping everything crossed for a reliable postal service…

** Update: Approximately 3 months later I received my reply in the form of a P800 errrr form arriving in the snail mail! And what’s more, my refund was offered to me as a bank transfer (gasp!). Unfortunately, you only have 60 days to claim it electronically before they automatically post a cheque, and having it posted to my Mum in Australia caused some delays… Nevertheless, the system works hooray!


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