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Each employer and pension provider has a unique reference number which identifies their tax records with HMRC. If you need to contact HMRC about tax, they might ask you to confirm this tax reference number. You might also see it referred to as an Employer Reference Number, or PAYE reference.

Where to find your tax reference number

The tax reference number is usually shown on the payslip that you receive each time your employer pays your wages.

You’ll also find the tax reference number on your P60, which employers give to each employee at the end of the tax year. This document shows how much you were paid during the tax year, as well as the amount of income tax and National Insurance that you paid.

If you no longer work for your employer then the tax reference number will appear on your P45, which is a tax document employers give to workers at the end of their employment.

You might also find the tax reference number on any emails or communications sent from your employer about your employment.

What does a tax reference number look like?

The tax reference number consists of three numbers, then several numbers, letters, or a combination of both. The initial three digits of the tax reference number indicate the tax office dealing with that particular employer. The remainder of the tax reference indicates the employer. Employees can also provide their National Insurance number if they need to contact any tax office in the UK.

Is a tax reference number the same as a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)?

Don’t make the mistake of confusing the tax reference number with a Unique Taxpayer Reference number! HMRC provide a UTR number if you register for Self Assessment. The 10 digit UTR number is sent to you by post, and is shown on your Self Assessment paperwork.

If you register for Self Assessment and also have an employer or pension, you may have letters from HMRC showing either of these, depending on what the letter is about.

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What if I have more than one employer?

Each employer that you work for will have their own unique employer reference number. Double-check the letter to make sure you have the correct reference number!

Using the correct HMRC reference number

Each employer who registers for Pay as You Earn (PAYE) with HMRC has a unique tax reference number. It helps HMRC identify which employer they are dealing with.

You might also use other HMRC services, such as VAT which has a unique VAT registration number, or if you operate as a limited company you will need your company UTR in order to submit a Company Tax Return for Corporation Tax. Keep a list of relevant reference numbers, and which services they’re for, to avoid confusion.

What is a Notice of Coding?

HMRC issue a Notice of Coding each year, for every employment or occupational pension you have. The Notice of Coding tells you about any personal tax free allowances you have for the year, and how they have been split between employments. Contact HMRC as soon as possible if you spot any coding errors, to avoid paying the wrong amount of tax.

Tax can be a complicated subject! Learn more about our online accounting services. Call the team on 020 3355 4047, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Lee Murphy

MAAT and ICPA accountant, with a passion for making accountancy and bookkeeping accessible. Other interests include cloud-based software development for web and mobile access, keeping fit, reading, and entrepreneurship.

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