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What is an Emergency Tax Code?

An Emergency Tax Code is used to deduct 20% tax from all of the PAYE income received. 

This means that no tax free allowance is available, and all income received will be taxed at basic rate ( BR ) which is at 20%. Sometimes an emergency tax code is correct, but in many cases it can mean that you will pay too much tax.

On this page you will find information about:

What does an Emergency Tax Code look like?

There are several different Emergency Tax Codes.

The most usual Emergency Tax Code is the BR tax code which means that you are paying tax on all your income at the basic rate.

Other Emergency Tax Codes include ‘week 1’ or ‘month 1’ tax codes which have a WK1 or MTH1 prefix stated after the tax code for example 123WK1.

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Why do I have a BR/ Emergency Tax Code?

There are many reasons that why you may be given an Emergency Tax Code.

The most common reasons for having an emergency Tax Code are:

  • Your employer does not have the correct information about how much tax from your earnings should be paid to HMRC, so they are instructed to deduct tax at the higher rate
  • You have more than one job
  • You have been receiving state benefits
  • You start receiving a pension
  • You have previously been self-employed

Important to know …

If you have started a new job and your employer has not received your P45 from your previous job they will not be able to give you the correct tax code, because they do not know how much tax you have already paid in that tax year. It is therefore important to make sure that you keep your P45 from your last job to give to your new employer.

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Can I get a tax refund if I have paid Emergency Tax?

If you have been on an Emergency Tax Code and paid too much tax, in almost every case you will be entitled to a Tax Refund.

In some cases this will be made automatically by HMRC at the end of the tax year, or they will instruct your employer to reduce the tax deducted from your earnings through a new tax code. However, if they do not receive the correct information from you and/or your employers, they may not be able to do this

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For further Tax information, please follow the links below:

  • Income Tax includes:
    What is income tax?
    How is Income Tax calculated?
    How much income tax do I need to pay?
    Income Tax Allowances
    Income Tax Rates and Taxable Bands
    How do I pay income tax?

  • Tax Codes includes:
    Where do I find my Tax Code?
    New Tax Codes
    What does my tax code mean?
    Different Tax Codes
    More than one job
    Emergency Tax Codes

  • Construction Industry Scheme includes:
    CIS For Subcontractors
    CIS For Contractors (Employers)

  • VAT (Value Added Tax) includes:
    What is VAT?
    When do I pay VAT?
    How much VAT do I need to pay?
    Do I need to register for VAT?
    How do I pay VAT?
    Can I claim VAT back?

  • Self Assessment includes:
    What is Self Assessment?
    Do I need to complete a Self Assessment tax return?
    How do I get a Self Assessment tax return form?
    How do I register for Self Assessment?
    Can I register for Self Assessment on behalf of a company or trust?
    What is a Unique Tax Reference number (UTR)?
    How do I get a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number?
    How do I complete my Self Assessment tax return online?
    Can I complete my Self Assessment tax return on paper?
    Record keeping
    Self Assessment Tax return deadlines
    What if I submit my tax return late?
    What if I submit my tax return incorrectly?
    How is my tax calculated?
    Do I need to check my tax calculation?

  • National Insurance includes:
    What is National Insurance?
    What are the different types of National Insurance?
    Who pays National Insurance?
    What is National Insurance used for?
    Do your National Insurance payments affect your Pension and Benefits?
    How much National Insurance should I pay?

  • Pension Tax includes:
    Do I have to pay tax on my pension?
    Do I have to pay tax on my state pension?

  • Corporation Tax includes:
    Who needs to pay Corporation Tax?
    How much Corporation Tax do I need to pay?
    How do I pay Corporation Tax?

  • Inheritance Tax includes:
    What is Inheritance Tax?

  • Capital Gains Tax includes:
    What is Capital Gains Tax?

More Info

Tax Refunds

For more information please see: