I normally live overseas. What do I need to know about the UK tax system?
The first thing you need to know is that the UK has a tax system that attempts to not discriminate against any particular groups of people. You should find your tax situation similar to most UK students.
Much guidance about the general tax system is available from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC – the UK tax authorities). This information is often not specifically aimed at students and especially not at international students, so you should find the information on this website helpful. You may also wish to consult the LITRG migrants guidance and factsheets. There is some limited guidance for international students studying in the UK on GOV.UK.
Broadly, the starting point under the UK system is that you are liable to UK taxation on your worldwide income if you are resident in the UK for tax purposes. However, your income which is sourced outside the UK may not be liable to tax in certain circumstances. If you are not resident in the UK, you are still liable to UK taxation on your UK-sourced income.
The extent to which you interact with the tax system will depend on your personal circumstances. You should normally expect to have to pay tax on any kind of income arising from working, whether for yourself or for an employer, and on all investment income: for example, bank interest or property income. Where you are living within the UK can affect what tax you pay because Scotland has exercised its powers to set its own rates and bands of Scottish Income tax.
Once you have sorted out what income you have that may be liable to UK taxation, you can then use the other areas of this website to help you claim a refund, if one is due, or to minimise the tax you pay as you go along. You may find it would be helpful to look at the tax essentials section of this website.
In the subsequent pages we cover:
- Am I resident if my stay is short?
- Do international students pay UK tax?
- Can I get a VAT refund?
- Can I work while studying in the UK?
- Do students pay National Insurance contributions?
- What happens when I leave the UK?
- Residence and domicile (On the main LITRG website)
- The Statutory Residence Test for overseas students studying in the UK