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Emergency Tax Explained

Emergency tax commonly occurs when HMRC hold insufficient information on your income and tax details for the tax year. This means that the correct tax code is unavailable; therefore you will be issued with a temporary emergency tax code.

Reasons why you may have an emergency tax code

  • You have recently started a new job and haven’t got a P45 from your previous employer.
  • You have started your first job.
  • You have started in PAYE employment after previously being self-employed.
  • You have started receiving company benefits such as a company car.
  • You have started receiving the State Pension.

What is an emergency tax code?

When you are emergency taxed, you will be given a temporary emergency tax code. A common emergency tax code in the UK is tax code BR

Your employer will use this to determine how much tax to deduct from your wages. This will be used until HMRC have sufficient information to work out your correct tax code.

How to tell if you have an emergency tax code

You can tell if you have an emergency tax code by checking your pay slip. If your tax code is one of those below, you are being emergency taxed.

  • 1100L W1
  • 1100L M1
  • 1100L X
  • BR (20% tax)
  • 0T (40% tax)

How much is emergency tax?

While you are on an emergency tax code beginning with 1060L you will be given a Personal Allowance. You will pay tax on all income above this amount (currently £10,600 for tax year 2015/16). This will be the correct amount of tax for most employees as it assumes that you are entitled to either 1/12 (1060L M1) of the allowance each month, or 1/52 (1060L W1) if you are paid weekly. These tax codes are ‘non-cumulative’ and based only on the current pay period.

If you have been given a BR tax code, you will be taxed at the 20% basic rate and will not receive a Personal Allowance.

Those with an 0T tax code will be taxed taking into account the basic rate, the higher rate, and the additional rate. This tax code only affects those whose earnings exceed the basic rate tax band. If you have an 0T tax code you will not get any Personal Allowance until you have been issued with the correct tax code.

You should review your P60 at the end of the tax year in order to identify whether you are eligible for a tax refund. Overpaid taxed can be reclaimed from HMRC.

Correcting your tax code

Once you have provided your employer with your P45 and/or details of your previous income and tax paid, your tax code will be updated automatically. HMRC will then send you a PAYE Coding Notice containing your new tax code. When you next receive a payslip from your employer, this should show your new tax code as well as any adjustments that have been made to your pay (if you were paying an incorrect amount of tax).

If you think that you’re tax code is still incorrect, you should contact HMRC.

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25 thoughts on “Emergency Tax Explained”

  1. Started new job 3 months ago been using tax code 1060L then my Jan payslip has code 480L M. An I have paid twice as much tax as I have in two months before I don’t understand?
    Asked account and all he said was my tax code has changed but with no reason why when I’ve asked him?

    1. Hi Sharon, You should have received a Tax Coding Notice from HMRC explaining how your new tax code was calculated. It is possible HMRC still think you have 2 jobs and have split your personal allowance between the “2” jobs.

  2. I have taken on a second job to boost my income. I’m on a 0T tax code on second job pay slips. Do I need to do anything or will this automatically be sorted eventually?

    1. Hi Claire, OT means that your personal allowance has been used up and you will now pay tax @ 20% on everything you earn. These things are usually sorted out automatically, and if you have paid too much tax, you will be able to recover it.

  3. I left my job 29/08/2016. Start new job3/09/2016. Have not got p45 yet was told will get it end September, will I pay emergency tax with p60 and will I get it back

  4. I worked a job for approximately 6 weeks from April to end of May. I left to start a new career job without giving the correct period of notice. When filling in P46 for new job before I left previous one, I stated that new job was not my only job at the time – which was the truth at that time. The previous employer did not pay me my final salary as they said I didn’t complete the notice period in full, However hmrc informed me that they sent through a payslip confirming last payment to me. My new job didn’t have the correct tax code because of this so I was on BR code for first two months in new position and most recently on 1100LM1. I have paid too much tax, my previous employer has not sent me a p45 or final payslip. What do I now, i.m very confused upset and out of pocket.

  5. I was self employed May 2015 to April 2016 and completed a self assessment for that period also informing hmrc of my date of cessation of self employment. My tax code for that period was 1046L M1.

    From April 2016 to present I am employed on the paye system and my tax code is now S1086L M1.
    I only have the one full time job but seem to be paying a lot of tax each month.

    My employment is in England where I now live with my husband whom I married in December last year and I duly informed hmrc of my change of address and marital status.

    I expect my salary with overtime to be around £15k before tax. I receive no benefits – no car allowances – no healthcare allowance but I contribute to the company pension scheme. My husband earns in excess of my £15k so think I do not qualify for marriage allowance.

    Do you think I am being overtaxed with an incorrect tax code?

    Look forward to your reply.

  6. I’m new in England and i have started to work with temporary nin. The tax code on my slip was 11ool W1 and now is the same with final nin. My annual salary is about 13.500. I’d like to know if my tax code is correct or i’m paying more taxes than i must. If it is not correct what can i do? How can i ask for the refund?
    Thanks in advance for your answer

  7. Thing is I worked for tesco which was temporary during Christmas and it was only 1 day. Then I received my payslip I didn’t end up getting the job, so now I work for a event company. I got taxed £24.00 when I started the work then the second time I worked got taxed £266.46 I don’t seem to understand anything and I’m a student at college who’s doing a level 3 course

  8. Hi I start with my emoyer October last year iv been told I’m on an emergency tax code (1100l w1) am
    I paying to much tax if so can I claim it bk and how please thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Sanjay Madhavji

      Hi Joanne,

      Assuming you’ve not had any other jobs during the tax year, you are probably paying too much tax. This is because you have not had the benefit of any unused personal allowance that was accrued between April and October. You should get this back automatically after April. If you don’t then you should contact HMRC on 0300 200 3300.

  9. Hello, I’m new in England and I am working since outober. First my payslip was 1100L M1 and this month it was changed to 0T and my anual salary is 15000. All months I pay tax for paye and NI a lot. What can I do to correct my tax code? I want to know if I am paying to much tax to and how to correct the tax codes. Best regards

    1. Sanjay Madhavji

      Hi Pedro, it sounds like you are paying too much tax. You will be able to claim this back after April 2017.

  10. jade louise jacobs

    Hi, I’ve started my first ever job and getting emergency taxed how do I fix it or do I just have to wait till it fixes itself

    1. Sanjay Madhavji

      It should be corrected automatically. If not you can contact HMRC on 0300 200 3300.

  11. Hi I am going back to work after being on benefits for over 10 years. I am only going to be working 12 hours per week. Will I get emergency taxed

  12. Hi , on my first wage I only earned 270 for two weeks . And got taxed £50! It’s my first proper job . Is it just emergency tax ? 🙂

  13. I have been emergency taxed I work 13hrs a week my supervisor told me I won’t get money bk as it goes bk 2 the company is this correct

    1. Hi Carla, any tax overpaid through your wages is owed to YOU and not your company! It is normal for it to be paid back through your wages, but if they try to keep it, that would pretty much be theft!

  14. Wonder if anyone can help? I’ve been living abroad for 12 years. I’ve recently moved back to the UK and started work. But I have no p45 as my last job was in Japan and my last job in the UK was 12+years ago and was part time. I don’t think I ever received a p45 if I did it is well and truly lost. What will I have to do?

    1. The lack of a P45 shouldn’t be a problem when starting a new job. Your new employer will ask you to complete a new starter checklist. On the form, you need to select option A which states “This is my first job since last 6 April and I have not been receiving taxable Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, taxable Incapacity Benefit, State or Occupational Pension”

      Providing you pick this option, you should start off on the right tax code and receive your full annual tax-free allowance (even if you started working partway through the tax year).

  15. Hi my wife works in a pub and the landlords pays her £6 a hour. He says this is cos she will get emergency tax. So he’s helping her out. She only works at most 9 hours a week because she only works weekend.

    1. Sounds fishy to me… If she works 9 hours a week then she would not be liable to pay any tax. Even if she does, she’ll get it back. If she is over 21, then her employer is breaking the law by not paying her the minimum wage.

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