man thinking

What is My Unique Taxpayer Reference and Where Can I Find It?

If you’re self-employed, learning the ins and outs of tax returns can be a tricky and time-consuming task. Here at Stonehouse Accountants, we work with small business owners across the UK and are often asked the same questions by each new client we speak to. One of the topics that often causes confusion is UTR (otherwise known as Unique Taxpayer Reference) numbers.

In this straightforward beginner’s guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about UTR numbers. Below, we’ll explain what they are, how they differ from tax codes, help you determine whether you need one and explain how to find your UTR number. Read on to get the lowdown on UTR numbers or, if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.

What is a UTR number?​

Simple. It’s a 10-digit code that’s assigned to everyone who registers for self-assessment. When you complete the registration process, HMRC will assign you a UTR number automatically – you don’t have to complete a separate application. This means that you don’t have to be self-employed to have a UTR number; if you register for self-assessment for any other reason, you’ll still receive a UTR number.

UTR numbers can also be assigned to businesses. When you set up a limited company, the business itself will also be given its own unique UTR number.

If you complete self-assessment tax returns and don’t know your UTR number, we’ll explain how to find it below.

Is a UTR number the same as a tax code?

No. UTRs are not to be confused with tax codes, which are assigned based on your tax-free allowance. Unlike tax codes, UTRs are completely unique. They’re used solely to identify you and your business with HMRC, rather than to clarify how much income tax you’re paying.

Tax codes also look very different to UTRs. Instead of using a 10-digit format, tax codes use a combination of numbers and letters (like 1257L).

Why do I need a UTR number?

In short, UTRs act as a unique identifier of who you are. Whenever you have to speak to HMRC regarding a tax query, your UTR number can be used to identify you or your business quickly and simply.

When it comes time to file a self-assessment tax return, claim a tax rebate or query any other tax-related information with HMRC, you’ll need to use your UTR number to identify yourself.

Where can I find my UTR number?

If you’ve not yet registered for self-assessment, you’ll need to do this first in order to receive your UTR number. According to the Government website, you should expect to receive this in the post within 15 days of making your application. However, if you don’t want to wait that long, you can access your Personal Tax Account online or use the HMRC app to find the number.

If you’ve already registered for self-assessment but have misplaced your UTR number, don’t panic. You should be able to find it on either the HMRC app or by logging into your online Personal Tax Account. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to either of these, you can check previous tax returns you’ve completed or any other correspondence you’ve received from HMRC via post. Any payment reminders or notices you’ve been sent should have your UTR number printed on them.

Still can’t find your UTR number? Your best bet is to contact HMRC.

Find out how Stonehouse can help

Whether you’ve recently become self-employed or are looking to take the next step and form a limited company, you need an accountant you can trust by your side. With more than four decades of experience working with businesses of all sizes, Stonehouse Accountants is here to help.

From bookkeeping to VAT, PAYE, CIS and tax returns, we can assist with all your accounting needs, no matter how small or large they may be. To find out more, check out our complete range of bookkeeping services today.