Tax Office Reference Number – Everything you Need to Know

Tax Office Reference Number - Unlocking your Tax Codes

Discover the importance of your Tax Office Reference Number, a unique identifier crucial for managing tax affairs for individuals and businesses alike. whether it be income tax or corporation tax etc. This key eliminates confusion, providing a smooth path through the complexities of the tax system. Join us as we demystify taxes, using this number to simplify your financial responsibilities. Let’s explore its significance together

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What Is A Tax Office Reference Number?

A tax office reference number, also known as a tax reference number or accounts office reference number, is a unique identifier assigned by HMRC to taxpayers. This alphanumeric code consists of numbers and letters and plays a vital role in communication with the tax office.

Having a tax office reference number is essential. Here’s why:

  1. Assigned by HMRC: The tax office reference number is allocated by HMRC to each taxpayer for identification purposes. It serves as a distinct identifier that helps the tax office keep track of individuals and their tax-related activities.
  2. Identifying taxpayers: This reference number enables HMRC to precisely identify taxpayers when dealing with various aspects of taxation, such as filing returns, making payments, or addressing inquiries.
  3. Vital for communication: When reaching out to the tax office regarding any tax-related matters, providing your tax office reference number ensures smoother and more efficient communication. It helps the officials quickly locate your records and address your queries or concerns.
  4. Integral part of the tax system: The tax office reference number is closely linked to other important elements within the taxation system. For instance, it connects with your unique PAYE (Pay As You Earn) reference and P60 forms, which summarize your annual income and taxes paid.

Finding and Identifying Your Tax Reference Number

If you’re wondering how to find and identify your tax reference number, here are a few simple steps to help you locate it:

  1. Check correspondence from HMRC: Look through any letters or emails you have received from HMRC. Your tax reference number, also known as the unique taxpayer reference (UTR), may be mentioned in these communications.
  2. Look for it on your payslip or P60 form: Your tax reference number might be displayed on your payslip or P60 form. Take a look at these documents to see if you can spot it.
  3. Access it through your online tax account: If you have an online tax account with HMRC, log in and navigate to the relevant section. You should be able to find your tax reference number there.
  4. Contact HMRC helpline if unsure: If you’ve tried the above options but still can’t locate your tax reference number, get in touch with the HMRC helpline for assistance. They will be able to provide guidance and help you find the information you need.

Remember that depending on whether you are an employee or self-employed, there may be different terms used for your tax reference number. For employees, it is often referred to as the PAYE reference number, while self-employed individuals may encounter it when filing their self-assessment tax return.

Your tax reference number is an essential piece of information when dealing with matters related to personal taxation, income tax, national insurance contributions, and other financial aspects. It helps ensure that payments and details are correctly attributed to your account for each specific tax year.

So whether you need this information for completing a tax return or making a payment, finding and identifying your tax reference number is crucial. By following these steps and exploring various sources such as correspondence from HMRC, payslips/P60s, online accounts, and seeking assistance from the helpline, you can easily access the necessary details to fulfil your tax obligations.

Understanding Employer Reference Numbers and HMRC Reference Numbers

The Employer Reference Number (ERN) is an identifier used for payroll purposes by employers. It helps distinguish one employer from another. On the other hand, the HMRC Reference Number is a unique identification number assigned to each taxpayer.

When submitting payroll information, employers are required to provide their Employer Reference Number. This ensures that the correct employer’s details are associated with the payroll data being reported. It is important to note that the ERN is specific to a particular employer and should not be confused with an individual’s personal reference number.

To contact HMRC or discuss any tax-related matters, it is essential to have your HMRC Reference Number at hand. This number serves as a means of identification when communicating with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Whether you are an employer or an individual taxpayer, having your HMRC Reference Number readily available will help expedite any inquiries or requests you may have.

Differentiating between ERN, Government Gateway User ID, and Other Identifiers

ERN used by employers, not individuals

The Employer Reference Number (ERN) is a unique identifier assigned to each employer. It is used by employers for tax purposes and is not applicable to individuals. The ERN helps the tax office track and manage employer-related tax obligations.

Government Gateway User ID needed to access online services

To access various online services offered by the tax office, individuals need a Government Gateway User ID. This user ID serves as a login credential that allows users to securely access their personal tax information and interact with the tax office digitally.

Other identifiers may include National Insurance number or Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)

Apart from the ERN and Government Gateway User ID, there are other identifiers used in the tax system. These may include the National Insurance number, which is a unique identifier assigned to individuals for social security purposes. Individuals may have a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), which is a reference number specific to their personal tax affairs.

Each serves a different purpose in the tax system

It’s important to understand that these identifiers serve distinct purposes within the tax system. While the ERN primarily relates to employers and their obligations, the Government Gateway User ID enables individuals to access online services conveniently. On the other hand, National Insurance numbers help identify individuals for social security matters, while UTRs specifically pertain to an individual’s personal taxation affairs.

By distinguishing between these different identifiers – ERNs used by employers, Government Gateway User IDs for accessing online services, and other identifiers like National Insurance numbers or UTRs – we can better navigate through various aspects of our interactions with the tax office.

What About My UTR?

Your UTR number is an important reference. It’s worth noting that your UTR is separate from your Tax Office Reference Number (TOR). Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • The UTR number is issued by HMRC specifically for self-assessment taxpayers in the UK. It serves as a unique identifier for individuals who need to file tax returns or communicate with HMRC about their self-employed income.
  • Unlike the TOR, which applies to all taxpayers, the UTR number is applicable only to those who fall under the self-assessment category. If you’re not self-employed or don’t need to file tax returns, you may not have a UTR.
  • Your UTR number consists of two parts: the first part remains consistent throughout your tax journey, while the second part changes over time. This second part can be updated each quarter or whenever there’s a significant change in your circumstances.
  • When filling out any tax-related forms or communicating with HMRC regarding your self-employed income, make sure to include your UTR number. It helps ensure that all relevant information reaches the right department and enables efficient processing of your requests.

Understanding the distinction between your Tax Office Reference Number and your UTR number is crucial when navigating through tax-related matters in the UK. Remember that while everyone has a TOR, having a UTR depends on whether you’re required to file tax returns as a self-assessment taxpayer.

So if you ever find yourself wondering about your UTR, rest assured that it’s something specific to certain individuals and plays an essential role in managing their taxes effectively.

The Importance of the Tax Office Reference Number

In conclusion, understanding and having a tax office reference number is crucial for managing your taxes effectively. It serves as a unique identifier that helps both individuals and businesses interact with the tax authorities smoothly.

By finding and identifying your tax reference number, you can ensure accurate reporting and compliance with tax regulations. This number allows you to access important information related to your tax affairs and communicate efficiently with the tax office.

It’s essential to differentiate between employer reference numbers (ERN), government gateway user IDs, and other identifiers. Each serves a specific purpose in different contexts, so knowing which one to use when dealing with various transactions is vital.

While the tax office reference number is significant, it’s also important not to overlook your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). Your UTR plays a key role in personal taxation matters, such as self-assessment returns. Make sure you have this number handy when required.

To stay on top of your taxes, keep track of all relevant identification numbers associated with your financial activities. Regularly review your records and update any changes promptly to avoid potential issues or penalties down the line.

Remember, having the correct identification numbers readily available can save you time and effort. Stay informed about any updates or changes from HMRC regarding these numbers by regularly checking their official website or seeking professional advice.

If you have any questions about this article or are a company in financial difficulty, please contact us here at Company Doctor today. We have our own licensed Insolvency Practitioner with years of experience who can assist whether you are looking to enter a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation or whether you are looking to salvage your business through an Administration or a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement.

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Can I apply for a tax office reference number online?

Yes, you can apply for a tax office reference number online through HMRC’s website. The process is usually straightforward and involves providing necessary details about yourself or your business.

What should I do if I lose my tax office reference number?

If you lose your tax office reference number, don’t panic! You can contact HMRC directly for assistance. They will guide you through the process of retrieving or reissuing the necessary identification number.

Will my employer have a different reference number than mine?

Yes, your employer will have their own unique employer reference number (ERN). This number helps HMRC identify and track employers’ contributions and obligations accurately.

How long does it take to receive a tax office reference number after applying?

The time it takes to receive your tax office reference number can vary. Generally, it should be issued within a few weeks after submitting your application. However, during peak periods, such as the end of the financial year, processing times may be longer.


The primary sources for this article are listed below.

Personal tax account: sign in or set up – GOV.UK (

Find your UTR number – GOV.UK (

Details of our standards for producing accurate, unbiased content can be found in our editorial policy here.

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