How to Check Your Tax Code & Claim Refunds

Every year, a good number of Brits are paying more tax than they need to, simply because they’ve got the wrong tax code. It’s a little piece of info that decides how much Income Tax gets taken out of your pay. Get it wrong, and you could either be out of pocket or owing HMRC money. The Northern Echo has a handy guide on how you can make sure you’re on the right track.

Understanding the Tax Code

A tax code isn’t just some random number. It helps employers and pension providers figure out the right amount of tax to take from your wages or pension.

For most of us, our tax code will look something like ‘1257L’. That code is based on the Personal Tax Allowance, which means you can earn up to £12,570 before you start paying tax.

However, don’t just assume yours is correct. If you get it wrong, you could be paying too much and could get some money back. But on the flip side, if your code means you’ve not paid enough, you’ll have to settle up with HMRC.

Tax guru, Adam Park, from Zest R&D, warns: “Always check your tax code. Loads of them could be wrong. It’s not up to HMRC or your boss to make sure your code is correct – it’s up to you.”

Spotting Your Tax Code

So where do you find this all-important code? You’ve got a few options:

  • On your most recent payslip.
  • If you’ve recently left a job, it’ll be on your P45.
  • Fancy a digital dive? Check on But you’ll need a government gateway ID first.

Your tax code isn’t just numbers, there’s a letter in there too, and they each have different meanings:

  • L: This is for folks who get the standard tax-free Personal Allowance.
  • S: Living in Scotland? This one’s probably yours.
  • BR/ SBR: Got a side hustle or a second pension? Look out for this.
  • M: If your spouse or partner’s given you some of their Personal Allowance, this is you.
  • N: The opposite of M. This means you’ve given away some of your allowance.
  • T: A heads up that HMRC wants a chat to check some details.

Claim Your Cash Back

If you think you’ve overpaid, there’s an easy way to sort it out using the HMRC app:

  1. Log in: Use your 6-digit pin or facial recognition (speedy!).
  2. Head to: ‘Pay As You Earn (PAYE)’.

Not into apps? No worries. Head to GOV.UK, and you can do it on your online account there.

The best bit? If HMRC sees they’ve taken too much, they’ll sort it out with your employer. You’ll see the extra money on your next payslip. Think you’ve overpaid for a while? Good news – you can claim for up to four years back!

In a nutshell: Always keep an eye on your tax code, and make sure you’re not paying more than you should. It’s a bit of admin, but it might just put some pounds back in your pocket!