Getting help with your taxes

If you need help managing taxes, it is a good idea to talk to an accountant. If you cannot afford an accountant, you may be able to get free advice from TaxAid. They will only help you if your problem cannot be answered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If you are aged over 60 and have a low income, you may be able to get free advice from Tax Help for Older People.

For simple questions about your tax, such as finding your tax code, you can contact HMRC.

Tax refund (rebate)

If your earnings decreased or stopped partway through the tax year, you may have paid too much income tax. The tax year is the period from 6 April to 5 April the year after. You may be able to claim back some of the tax you paid. This is called a tax rebate.

You can check how much money you can claim, and how to claim it, at Or you can contact HMRC.

PAYE taxpayers

PAYE stands for Pay As You Earn. This system is used to collect income tax and National Insurance contributions if you:

  • work for an employer
  • get a pension from a previous employer
  • get a pension from a pension provider.

HMRC uses a tax code. This tells your employer or pension provider how much tax to take from your wages or pension. This means the correct amount of tax should be taken automatically before you get your pay or pension. But, mistakes can happen. It is your responsibility to make sure you pay the correct amount of tax.

You can check that you are paying the right amount of tax at Or you can contact HMRC.

If you decide to take a large lump sum from your pension, you may pay too much tax under PAYE. You may have paid too much tax if you have taken some, or all, of your pension. But you can claim a tax refund straight away. Contact HMRC to do this.

There are other times when your tax bill will be corrected. This might be at the end of the tax year or if you take another payment from your pension. It depends on what comes first.

Self-Assessment taxpayers

You need to fill in a tax return each year if you:

  • are self-employed
  • are a landlord
  • have income from abroad
  • have untaxed income from savings, investments or dividends.

A tax return is a form you fill out so that your tax bill for the year can be worked out. The tax return gives information about your income and certain types of spending.

You will need to register for Self-Assessment and send your tax return to HMRC. You can fill in an online form or a paper form. If you want to complete your tax return online, you need to register with HMRC first. This can take several days.

HMRC then uses your tax return to work out how much tax you should be paying.

There are strict deadlines for sending back (filing) tax returns. The deadlines are:

  • 31 July if you make advance payments towards your tax bill
  • 31 October for paper forms
  • 31 January for online forms.

If you miss the deadline by up to 3 months, you will get a fine of £100. If your tax return is more than 3 months late, you will have to pay more.

You can appeal against a fine if you can prove you have a reasonable excuse. For example, you could appeal if you had a serious or life-threatening illness that stopped you meeting the deadline.

You will still need to complete a tax return if you are in hospital for a long period of time. HMRC will expect you to arrange for your tax return to be completed for you. If you are a family member or carer, HMRC may not accept the illness of your loved one as a reasonable excuse for not completing your tax return on time.

For more information about Self-Assessment, call HMRC on 0300 200 3310, textphone 0300 200 3319 or visit

You can register for a digital tax account. This allows you to update your information and pay tax online at any time in the year. Some people will not need to fill in a tax return. You can learn more about digital tax accounts at

About our information

  • Reviewers

    Our financial information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by finance, housing and energy experts and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Amanda South, Macmillan Financial Guidance Service Manager.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 November 2022
Next review: 01 November 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.