Understanding the UK Tax Code System
Income Tax collected through the PAYE system is a vital source of government funding, and the correct operation of this system is essential to the economy. However, recent research has shown that up to 14 million people in the UK have been paying the wrong amount of tax due to coding errors, leading to underpayments or overpayments. To avoid this problem, it is important to understand the tax code system, how it is calculated, and how to check if it is correct.
What is a Tax Code?
The tax code is a series of letters and numbers that is used by your employer to calculate how much Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions you need to pay. The code is designed to collect the right amount of tax over the course of the tax year, which runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year. The code takes into account your personal allowance, which is the amount you can earn before you start paying tax, as well as any deductions and adjustments for other income, benefits, or expenses.
Tax Code and PAYE System
Your tax code is a series of letters and numbers that is used by your employer to calculate how much Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions you need to pay. The tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year, and your tax code is designed to collect the right amount of tax over the course of the year. Your employer deducts tax from your earnings each pay period and pays it to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on your behalf through the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system.
Understanding Your Tax Code
Your tax code is based on several factors, including your personal allowance, any deductions and adjustments for other income, benefits, or expenses, and the rate of tax you pay. Your tax code may change if your circumstances change, such as if you start a new job, receive a pay rise, or claim new benefits. You can check your tax code by contacting HMRC, using the check your Income Tax online service, or checking your payslip.
Emergency Tax Code and P2 Notice of Coding
If you start a new job or your employer does not have your previous tax details, you may be put on an emergency tax code. This code ensures that you pay tax immediately and can result in you paying more tax than you should. If you receive a P2 Notice of Coding, it means that HMRC has calculated your tax code for the upcoming tax year based on the information they have, and you should check that it is correct.
Deductions and Adjustments
Your tax code may be adjusted to take into account deductions and adjustments for other income, benefits, or expenses, such as pension contributions, company car, job expenses, or student loan repayments. If you have more than one job or source of income, each may have a separate tax code and you may need to check that the total tax you pay is correct.
Consequences of Incorrect Tax Code
If you have the wrong tax code, you may end up paying too much or too little tax, which can lead to underpayments or overpayments. If you have underpaid tax, you may be required to pay it back later, while if you have overpaid tax, you may be entitled to a tax refund. To avoid these problems, it is important to keep your tax affairs up to date and to contact HMRC if you have any questions or concerns.
Common Tax Codes
List of UK tax codes and what they mean
The basic rule is that your PAYE code is the amount of your tax free allowance with the last digit removed, followed by a letter. Someone with a personal allowance of £12,570, unchanged from last year incidentally, and with no other complicating factors, will have a code 1257L.
From then on it becomes more complicated. to cover it. HMRC are already struggling with their Making Tax Digital project – and this could add to their woes.
What does the code number represent?
There are many different tax codes, each with its own meaning and calculation. The most common tax codes are:
- L: Standard personal allowance, used when you have no other complicating factors
- W1 or M1: Emergency tax code, used when you start a new job and your employer does not have your previous tax details
- K: Extra amount added to your income, used when you have additional income that is not covered by your personal allowance
- BR: All at basic rate of income tax
- D0: All at higher rate of income tax
- D1: All at top rate of income tax
How are tax codes worked out?
The tax code is designed to allow the PAYE system to collect the correct amount of income tax over the year by adjusting for your individual circumstances. If you have a single source of earnings the code will typically start with your personal allowance and then be adjusted downwards for employee benefits such as a company car or private health insurance.
It could also be reduced if you have savings, rental profits or dividends above their respective annual allowances.
The code can be increased for allowable expenses and higher rate relief on charitable contributions. The adjustments will only be made to your main PAYE source of income.
If you have supplementary sources these will usually be allocated a basic rate BR, Higher rate D0 or additional rate D1 code.
A K tax code is used by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect additional tax from your income. It is usually applied when you have income that is not taxed at source or that exceeds your personal allowance. For example, if you have multiple sources of income or if you receive state pension and have other earnings or private pensions and annuities.
The K tax code is a negative allowance, which means that an amount is added to your taxable income for PAYE (Pay As You Earn) purposes. This additional income is then subject to income tax at your usual rate.
If you have a K tax code, it is important to check that it has been applied correctly and that you are not overpaying or underpaying tax.
How to Check Your Tax Coding Notice
To check if your tax code is correct, you can use the HMRC check your Income Tax online service, which allows you to view your paye coding notices and update your employment details. You can also write to HMRC quoting your PAYE reference number and ten digit Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number. It is important to check your tax code regularly, especially if your circumstances change, such as if you receive a pay rise, start a new job, or receive a pension or benefits.
Consequences of Incorrect Tax Codes
If you have the wrong tax code, you may end up paying too much or too little tax, which can be a costly mistake. If you have underpaid tax, you may be required to pay it back later, while if you have overpaid tax, you may be entitled to a tax refund. To avoid these problems, it is important to keep your tax affairs up to date and to contact HMRC if you have any questions or concerns.
In conclusion, understanding the tax code system is essential for anyone who earns an income in the UK. By checking your tax code regularly and keeping HMRC informed of any changes in your circumstances, you can ensure that you pay the right amount of tax and avoid any unnecessary penalties or charges. So don’t ignore those tax code notifications – take the time to check and make sure that your code is correct.
Jack Ross will help you receive a tax refund
At Jack Ross Chartered Accountants, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional accounting and tax services to businesses and individuals across the UK. Our team of expert accountants is dedicated to helping you achieve your financial goals and ensuring that you stay on top of your tax obligations.
Whether you need help with bookkeeping, payroll, VAT, or tax planning, we have the expertise and experience to provide you with the best possible service. So if you’re looking for a reliable and trustworthy accounting partner, look no further than Jack Ross Chartered Accountants.
To find out more about our services and how we can help you, please call us on 0161 832 4451 or submit the webform on our website. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you get started on the road to financial success. Don’t hesitate, contact us today!