Posted: Thu 8th Jul 2021
If you’re newly self-employed or starting a small business, you’ll need a UTR number. And if you need information on UTR numbers, you’re in the right place. Discover what they are, what they look like and why you need one for your taxes.
UTR means 'Unique Taxpayer Reference' and is a number you get from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC). If you're employed by someone else, you don’t need a UTR. But if you're entering self-employment, you'll need one to track your yearly tax records.
Also known as ‘tax references’, UTRs are 10 digits long and sometimes include a letter 'K' at the end. Once you get your UTR number, it stays the same for life.
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You’ll only need a UTR number if you submit a self-assessment tax return. Individuals who need to file a tax return include those who:
Are self-employed or freelance
Own a limited company
Earned over £100,000
Owe any tax on savings, dividends or capital gains
Earned over £10,000 from savings interest or investment income
Earned £2,500 or more in untaxed income such as commission
A UTR number helps HMRC identify and track your tax records. This in turn helps them work out your annual Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.
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Your journey into self-employment starts with registering for Self-Assessment with the HMRC. You can register:
Online at the HMRC website
By telephone on 0300 200 3310
By post at: Pay As You Earn and Self Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS
To speed up the process, you’ll need the following details to hand
Your full name
A current address
An email address
Date of birth
It can take up to seven days for your UTR to arrive but when it does, it'll come by post. You’ll receive a letter titled Welcome to Self Assessment, which will have your tax reference on it.
If you’ve lost or can't find your UTR number, it will be on a previous tax return or your Welcome to Self Assessment letter.
If you submit a paper tax return, your UTR is on the first page, just above your National Insurance number. For online tax returns, your UTR is on the second page below your last name and above your National Insurance number.
Corporation or company tax UTRs are references used by businesses instead of individuals.
HMRC issues corporation tax UTRs to all limited companies registered with Companies House. Because personal UTRs are only issued to self-employed people, they can’t replace a corporation UTR.
It is possible to have both a personal and corporation tax UTR as long as both ‘companies’ are kept separate.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new support scheme was created for self-employed people in the UK. Whereas employed people have furlough leave, self-employed workers now have the SEISS scheme.
You can currently apply for SEISS funding if:
You filed a Self Assessment tax return for 2019/2020 before March 2nd 2021
Over half of your earnings come from self-employment
You’ve earned under £50,000 a year on average over the last three years
Your business has suffered as a result of the pandemic
The SEISS grant pays out 80% of your average profits over a three-month period. Funding is capped at £7,500 and is calculated using your last three years of profits. If you’ve recently become self-employed, calculations will start from that time.
Although HMRC will contact you if you’re eligible for a SEISS grant, you should contact them anyway. They’ll give you instructions on how to claim funding and a personal claim date.