Director 5 ways to locate your Tax Office Reference Number

Tony Dhanjal

tax office reference number

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HMRC correspondence can often be a little bit confusing and at times it can feel overwhelming. On top of the underlying subject matter there is also the small task of understanding the numerous codes and references that can accompany the correspondence. In reality most individuals see these references on a regular basis but never really understand them. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you understood where these references came from or at least what they relate to? In this article we will look in detail at the tax office reference number and in particular we will uncover 5 great ways to locate your tax office reference number.

What Is A Tax Office Reference Number?

When dealing with HMRC you will come across many different reference numbers so it’s no wonder individuals get confused when asked to provide one. One of the most common reference numbers you will come across is the tax office reference number which is what we will be referring to throughout this article. At times you may hear others refer to the tax office reference number as a employer PAYE reference number but don’t worry these are one and the same.  The tax office reference number is a unique combination of letters and numbers used by HMRC to identify different employer payroll schemes.  Each employer payroll scheme has it’s own unique reference and that reference is broken down into 2 parts. The first part of the reference is made up of three numbers which will correspond to a particular tax office and informs HMRC which tax office looks after that particular employer. The second part of the reference can be a combination or letters and/or numbers which will identify the employer the reference belongs to. A typical reference may look something like this 123/AA54321.

Where Will I Find My Tax Reference?

As an employee you will be able to find your tax office reference number on payroll correspondence from your employer. The easiest place to find your tax reference is on your payslip but be careful not to confuse this with your tax code which is also detailed on payslips. The tax code is a separate combination of letters and numbers which helps employers know how much tax should be deducted from your income and may look something like this – 1250L.

If you have parted ways with an employer you can also find the tax office reference number on your P45 which is a document issued by employers to employees that leave employment part way through a tax year.

Those employees that remain in employment on 5th April each year will receive a P60 end of year certificate from their employers which will also contain the tax office reference number. For more information on P60”s check out article What Is A P60 Form? A Clear Simple Guide

You may also receive certain correspondence and statements from HMRC throughout your employment that often contains your tax reference.

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When Will I Need My Tax Reference?

Apart from knowing how to recognise your tax reference on correspondence from both HMRC and your employer. There are also situations where you may be asked to provide your tax reference for example when completing your self assessment tax return. Where you have employment income and are required to complete a self assessment you will need to include details of gross earnings, tax already paid and of course the tax reference this relates to. 

What About My UTR?

unique taxpayer reference or UTR for short is actually a completely different reference number but is often confused with the tax office reference number. The UTR is a reference assigned to individuals and businesses to identify them to HMRC. The UTR is a 10 digit number which again can be found on correspondence from HMRC.

The key difference is that the UTR is identifying an individual or a business whereas the tax office reference number is identifying an employer and it’s payroll scheme.

Will My Tax Reference Ever Change?

Remember the tax office reference number doesn’t actually belong to you it belongs to your employer and as such your tax reference will change each time you change employment. Each time you change employment your new employer will inform HMRC that you are working under their reference number and HMRC will update their records accordingly. This means that apart from providing your new employer with your personal details and national insurance number you do not need to do anything else. 

Multiple Employments

Where an individual has multiple employments they will also have multiple tax office reference numbers and will need to ensure they are providing the correct reference in any correspondence with HMRC. For example when completing a self assessment an individual with 2 employments will need to provide pay and tax details from both employments in addition to any other sources of income. The individual will need to be careful that the pay and tax deductions they enter correspond to the correct tax office reference number otherwise this will disagree with HMRC’s records and could result in an investigation.

Of course each piece of correspondence received from your employer should also contain the name of the employer as well as the tax office reference number so you can easily identify which reference belongs to which employer. 

Can’t Find Your Tax Reference?

Where an individual no longer has access to any of the documents above that would contain the tax office reference number and has since changed employment they have a couple of options to try to retrieve it:

  1.  Make contact with your previous employer who can provide you with copy payslips/P60’s/P45’s etc or even just provide you with the tax office reference number.
  2. Contact HMRC by phone or in writing to request the details. Remember your employer will have made regular payroll submissions during your employment which will now be linked to your national insurance number. Once you have passed security checks and provided the employers name, HMRC will be able to provide you with the tax office reference number.

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Practice based accountant with over 10 years experience, specialising in SME's, Freelancers and Personal Tax. "I take pride in proactively recognising tax planning opportunities on behalf of clients to help them operate more efficiently."

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