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What is a tax reference number (PAYE reference number)?

When to Register for PAYE?

Any company or employer who has one or more employees needs to register for a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) scheme with the HMRC if any of the following applies to any one of their employees:

* Earn at or above the PAYE threshold (above £9,440 for the 13/14 tax year).

* Earn at or above the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit.

* Receiving employee benefits.

* Has a 2nd or 3rd job.

* Is receiving a state or occupational pension.

Once registered, the HMRC will issue a PAYE reference number for the employer. The PAYE reference number usually consists of 3 numbers, followed by 2 letters and then followed by 4 to 6 numbers, e.g. 123AB456789.

What does the employer reference number mean?

The first three digits tell you which tax office your employer is registered to, e.g. the tax reference number starts with 120, then the tax office is North East Metropolitan.

Where can I find my tax or PAYE reference number?

If you are or were an employee and need to find the PAYE reference number for your old company or employer, then you should find the PAYE reference number on your payslips, P45, statement of earnings or P60 that you received from that employer. Remember that each employer has a unique PAYE reference number, so this PAYE reference number will be different for each employer.

Do not confuse the PAYE reference with a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) or Tax Code. Please see our previous blog posts for more detailed explanations of these.

Birka Bosman
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