UTR More commonly known as ‘The What Now??’

Now on the contrary to popular belief this is not some kind of Urinary tract infection (as much as it may sound like one) it is in fact your Unique Taxpayer Reference. “Cue lights coming down from the sky, in an all hail manner bathing you in a warm glow of understanding”. Yea right…. Still confused…. Well here is all you need to actually know about UTR/’The What now??’.

So as I previously mentioned the UTR stands for Unique taxpayer reference, it is needed to be able to file your tax returns with HMRC (because apparently handing over our hard earned cash isn’t painful enough, we also have to learn about abbreviated words which make our life even harder), and just to add a little salt into the wound if you are a limited company you need not one of these but 2… which you have to set up separately… and you need different information for!

So let’s start with the personal one. 

It is normally a 10 digit number and sometimes has a k on the end…. Because why wouldnt it!? 

You will need this if you submit a self-assessment tax return. You will need to submit a self-assessment if you are 

  • self employed 
  • Have set up a limited company
  • If you owe tax on savings, dividends or capital gains
  • If you earn more than £100,000 (but let’s be real if we were on that kind of money we would be paying someone to stand over our shoulder telling us which button to press, not here reading this blog!). 

Now here is the interesting bit… You can also submit a tax return to claim tax back from employment. “Cue shocked face and insert mind blown emoji!!”. That’s right, the bit HMRC doesn’t like to shout about is that if you have paid for things for work, which have not been reimbursed by your employer, you can claim these back on your tax return, thus lowering the amount of tax you pay. 

Worked from home this year due to the pandemic? You can put through home working expenses of £6 per week, £312 per year, totaling £62.40 back. 

Had to drive somewhere different from your normal place of work for business purposes? That’s 45p per mile! 

Had to buy specialist clothes to do your job? It can all go on the tax return! 

I know right…… So let’s talk about how to get this magical number……

So the first thing you need to do is to register online. You can do that here.

You will need:- Full Name

Current address

National insurance number

Date of birth

Phone Number

Self employed :- The date you started

Type of business

Business address

Business Phone number

You will then receive your UTR/’You What Now??’ in the post.

If you lose your magical number you will just need to phone HMRC (be prepared for a 45 minute hold) on 03002003310, make sure you have your national insurance number at the ready.

So now for the Limited companies, In theory you should get this when you form your limited company, HMRC will send that magic number usually 14 or so days after you registered. Now here is the important part… without this you won’t be able to –

  • Change your corporation tax accounting period.
  • File tax and VAT returns.
  • Pay tax and VAT (may not sound all that bad but you may change your mind when the fines start rolling in).
  • HMRC won’t want to talk to you. (again doesn’t sound that bad, until you need to reclaim tax)
  • Change of details regarding your company structure.
  • Pay employees.
  • Register for corporation tax, VAT and PAYE.

So make sure you guard that scratty piece of paper with your life.

If you didn’t receive your UTR within 3 weeks of registering your business it is advisable to phone HMRC on 0300 200 3410 or contact them online.

If you have lost your UTR you can request a copy here.

Unfortunately for all of us this is not something your accountant can do. Hopefully though the above will be able to help you navigate through the waters of hell that are the HMRC website. However if you are earning £100,000 I will happily come and stand over your shoulder and tell you what buttons to press for a small(ish) fee.