Lots of nurses and other healthcare workers know that they've paid too much tax, but – for all sorts of reasons – they don't have their original P45 or P60 certificates to prove it. Quite often they've been lost or misplaced, but increasingly we're finding that the documents were simply never issued in the first place.
In this article, we take a look at how you go about claiming tax relief if you're a missing a P45 or P60. Let's kick off with an obvious question: what even is a P45? And what is a P60? Well, a P45 is a tax certificate which is given to you by your employer (in this case, the NHS) when you leave them for good. It contains details of the earnings you have received and tax you have paid during the tax year – and is used by HM Revenue and Customs (informally known as the tax office) to work out how much tax you should be paying in your next job.
A P60 is very similar; it shows basically the same information as a P45 but, rather than showing 'year to date' income and tax information, it's an annual tax statement which is issued at the end of each tax year (April 5th).
The idea that some NHS Trusts are failing to provide nursing staff with P45s and P60s is very worrying – least of all because it is a legal requirement for them to do so. In our case, it is particularly worrying because HMRC needs to have sight of these documents in order to process your tax rebate claim.
Like many large government departments, HMRC doesn't exactly have a great reputation when it comes to being easy and straightforward to deal with. For starters, HMRC will only accept original copies of your P45 and P60 tax documents. So as helpful as a photocopy may be, it just won't cut it when it comes to securing tax relief. This can be a huge problem – especially if the document you're missing should have been given to you by the NHS before you left way back in, say, 2004.
At this point, HMRC will usually tell you that they're happy to accept your original pay slips as support for your claim. But how many of us have kept the last six years worth of pay slips? This is not very very likely.
Fortunately, there is a way around the problem which doesn't involve physically turning your house upside down and shaking it until the elusive document magically appears.
If you've been employed by the NHS, they are required to hold your tax and pay records for at least 3 years after the year to which they relate – and many keep records still beyond that for their own internal purposes. This being the case, the easiest way to secure proof of the tax you have paid is to obtain what's known as a Statement of Earnings.
A Statement of Earnings (sometimes known as an Income Statement) is a document issued by your employer – in this case, the NHS – detailing your earnings and tax paid for a given period – ie the same information that would otherwise be found on your missing P45 / P60. Provided it has been signed by your NHS Trust, and either marked with their official stamp or printed on their company letterhead, HMRC will usually accept it as a substitute. Job done!