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How to See Previous Self-Assessment Tax Returns in the UK

Updated: Apr 6


Introduction and Understanding the Importance of Previous Tax Returns

Understanding your tax history is crucial for various reasons, whether you're self-employed, a landlord, or an individual taxpayer in the UK. One of the most common queries is how to access previous self-assessment tax returns. This article will guide you through the process of viewing and downloading your old tax returns, tax calculations (SA302), and tax year overviews from the HMRC website.


How to See Previous Self-Assessment Tax Returns in the UK


Why You Might Need Previous Tax Returns

There are several reasons why you might need to access your old tax returns:


  • Financial Planning: Reviewing past returns can help you understand your income trends and plan for the future.

  • Loan or Mortgage Applications: Financial institutions often require past tax returns to assess your creditworthiness.

  • Tax Audits: In case of an audit by HMRC, having easy access to past returns can speed up the process.

  • Legal Requirements: The UK government recommends keeping tax records for at least 22 months following your return. If you're self-employed, you're required to keep your records for at least five years following the 31 January deadline of each tax return.


What Are SA302 and Tax Year Overviews?

Before diving into the steps, it's essential to understand what these documents are:


SA302 (Tax Calculation): This is a snapshot of your income in various categories for a given financial year. It shows your salary, dividends, land and property earnings, pension income, and income from shares, savings, or investments.


Tax Year Overview: This document shows the tax paid in any given year and should correlate with your Tax Calculation (SA302) for the corresponding year.


Accessing Online vs. Paper Documents

HMRC provides these documents online, making them readily available for download. However, paper originals are also acceptable, especially if you don't have internet access. These can be ordered by calling HMRC at 0300 200 3310.


Pre-requisites for Accessing Tax Documents

Before you begin, make sure you have the following:


  • Government Gateway Login Details: You'll need these to sign in to the HMRC online services.

  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) Number: Keep this handy, especially if you're contacting HMRC.

  • National Insurance Number: This is another crucial piece of information you'll need.



Step-by-Step Guide to Accessing Previous Tax Returns


Accessing Tax Calculations (SA302)


To download your SA302 tax calculations, follow these steps:


  1. Visit HMRC Online Services: Go to www.gov.uk/log-in-register-hmrc-online-services .

  2. Sign In or Register: Click on 'Sign in' or 'Register for HMRC Online Services'.

  3. Login: Use your Government Gateway login details to sign in.

  4. Navigate to Self-Assessment: If you are only registered for Self-Assessment, you may automatically be redirected to this page.

  5. View and Manage: Click the link 'View and manage your Self-Assessment tax return'.

  6. Select Tax Year: Under previously filed returns for the latest year, select 'Get your SA302 tax calculation'.

  7. Continue: Click the link 'Continue to your SA302'.

  8. Print or Save: At the bottom of the page, click 'Print your full calculation', then select 'Save as PDF' and 'Save'.


For previous years, you can go back to the account home page and follow similar steps, selecting 'View more previous years Self Assessment' to access older SA302s.


Accessing Tax Year Overviews

To download your Tax Year Overviews, the process is quite similar:


  1. Visit HMRC Online Services: Go to the same HMRC website as above.

  2. Sign In or Register: Click on 'Sign in' or 'Register for HMRC Online Services'.

  3. Login: Use your Government Gateway login details.

  4. Navigate to Self-Assessment: You may be automatically redirected if you're only registered for Self-Assessment.

  5. View and Manage: Click the link 'View and manage your self-assessment tax return'.

  6. Select Tax Year: Under previously filed returns for the latest year, follow the link 'View your tax year overview'.

  7. Print or Save: Select the tax year you wish to print and click 'Go', then click 'Print your tax year overview', select 'Save as PDF' and 'Save'.


Accessing Full Tax Return (SA100)


Your full tax return, also known as SA100, can be accessed with a similar process:


  1. Visit HMRC Online Services: Go to the HMRC website.

  2. Sign In or Register: Click on 'Sign in' or 'Register for HMRC Online Services'.

  3. Login: Use your Government Gateway login details.

  4. Navigate to Self-Assessment: You may be automatically redirected.

  5. View and Manage: Click the link 'View and manage your self-assessment tax return'.

  6. Select Tax Year: Under previously filed returns, click the latest year, which will show tax return options.

  7. View Return: Scroll down and click on 'View / Print / Store your return onto your local drive'.

  8. Download: Scroll down to the 'colour copy' option, click on 'View PDF', and save the document.



Troubleshooting, Additional Resources, and Security Measures Regarding Previous Self-Assessment Tax Returns


Troubleshooting Common Issues

Sometimes you may encounter issues while trying to access your tax documents. Here are some common problems and their solutions:


  • Forgotten Login Details: If you've forgotten your Government Gateway login details, you can reset them on the HMRC website.

  • Outdated Information: Ensure that all your personal details, including your address and contact information, are up-to-date in your HMRC account.

  • Technical Errors: If the website is down or you encounter any technical issues, you can contact HMRC's helpline at 0300 200 3310 for assistance.


Contacting HMRC for Paper Documents

If you prefer paper documents or don't have internet access, you can request these by calling HMRC at 0300 200 3310. You'll need your UTR and National Insurance Number handy.


Additional Resources


HMRC Webchat: HMRC offers a webchat service where you can ask questions and get real-time assistance.

HMRC App: The HMRC mobile app allows you to manage your tax affairs on the go.

Accountants and Tax Advisors: If you find the process overwhelming, consider hiring a professional to guide you through it.


Importance of Secure Storage

Once you've downloaded your tax documents, it's crucial to store them securely. Here are some tips:


Digital Storage: Use a secure cloud storage service with encryption to store your digital copies.

Physical Copies: If you have printed copies, keep them in a secure, fireproof safe.

Access Control: Limit access to these documents to only those who absolutely need it, such as your accountant or financial advisor.


Regular Checks and Updates

It's good practice to regularly check your HMRC account for any updates or changes. This proactive approach can help you stay ahead of any potential issues.


Accessing your previous self-assessment tax returns in the UK is a straightforward process if you follow the steps outlined in this guide. Whether you need these documents for financial planning, loan applications, or legal compliance, knowing how to retrieve them is essential. With online and offline options available, HMRC has made it convenient for taxpayers to manage their tax affairs efficiently.



FAQs

1. How long does HMRC store previous tax returns online?

HMRC typically allows access to the past six years of tax returns online. This aligns with the legal requirement to keep records for at least five years after the January 31 deadline of the relevant tax year.


2. Can I amend a mistake on a tax return from three years ago?

The ability to amend a tax return is generally limited to within 12 months after the original submission deadline. For errors discovered later, it's advisable to contact HMRC directly.


3. What if I can't access my Government Gateway account?

If you're unable to access your account, you can use the online prompts to recover your username or reset your password. Alternatively, you can contact HMRC for assistance.


4. Are there any fees associated with accessing or printing previous tax returns?

Accessing and printing previous tax returns from HMRC's online services is free. However, if you require professional assistance, accountants or tax advisors may charge a fee.


5. How can I prove my income to a mortgage lender if I can't access my SA302 or Tax Year Overview in time?

Mortgage lenders may accept other forms of proof of income, such as bank statements or accountant-certified summaries, while you retrieve the official documents.


6. Can I use previous tax returns to correct discrepancies in my current return?

Yes, reviewing previous returns can help identify discrepancies or patterns that may influence the accuracy of your current return.


7. Is digital storage of tax documents considered as official as paper copies?

Digital copies are considered as official as paper copies, provided they are accurate and unaltered versions of the original documents.


8. What should I do if I find discrepancies in my Tax Year Overview?

If you notice discrepancies, contact HMRC as soon as possible to discuss the differences and rectify any mistakes.


9. How can international residents of the UK access their previous tax returns?

International residents can access their tax returns online through the Government Gateway or contact HMRC for assistance if facing access issues from abroad.


10. What security measures should I take when storing tax documents digitally?

Ensure you use encrypted digital storage solutions and maintain strong, unique passwords for any accounts storing sensitive financial information.


11. Can previous tax returns be used to track down unclaimed refunds?

Yes, reviewing past tax returns can help identify any instances where you may have overpaid tax and are eligible for a refund.


12. How can I authorize someone else to access my previous tax returns on my behalf?

You can authorize a tax agent or accountant to manage your tax affairs through HMRC's online services or by providing them with a written authorization.


13. What should I do if my previous tax returns are incomplete or incorrect?

Contact HMRC to discuss the situation. They can guide you on the steps needed to amend or complete your returns accurately.


14. Are previous tax returns needed for citizenship or residency applications?

Yes, tax returns may be requested as part of the evidence for financial stability or compliance with tax laws during such applications.


15. How does Brexit affect the access or relevance of previous tax returns for EU nationals?

Brexit does not affect the process of accessing previous tax returns, but EU nationals may need to pay closer attention to residency status and related tax obligations in their filings.


16. Can previous tax returns impact my future tax liabilities?

Yes, they can, especially if they establish patterns of income, deductions, or discrepancies that HMRC may wish to review further.


17. What happens if I discover I owe more tax after reviewing previous returns?

You should report this to HMRC immediately. They will advise on how to pay any owed tax and may discuss potential penalties or interest.


18. Can I use previous tax returns to negotiate with creditors?

Yes, tax returns can serve as proof of income and financial status in negotiations with creditors or in insolvency proceedings.


19. How can I ensure the privacy of my tax documents when sharing them electronically?

Use secure file-sharing services, password-protect documents, and ensure that the recipient has adequate security measures in place.


20. What role do previous tax returns play in estate planning and inheritance tax calculations?

They provide a record of assets and income that can be crucial in estate valuation and determining potential inheritance tax liabilities.





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