Tax Codes Explained 2023/24: Everything You Need to Know

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Tax Codes Explained

If you’re confused about tax codes and how they work, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will dive deep into the world of tax codes, discussing what they are, how to update them, and what emergency tax codes mean. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of tax codes and their importance in determining your income tax. So let’s get started!

What is a Tax Code?

A tax code is a code used by your employer or pension provider to calculate the amount of income tax that should be deducted from your wages or pension. The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) assigns the tax code to your employer, and you can usually find it on your pay slips. Tax codes are separated into two parts: a number and a letter.

The number part of the tax code is determined based on your tax-free personal allowance and any untaxed income you have, such as interest or part-time earnings. Additionally, the value of any job-related benefits, such as a company car, is taken into consideration. The letter part of the tax code corresponds to your situation and how it affects your personal allowance.

Understanding the Number Part of the Tax Code

The number part of the tax code represents your basic personal allowance. For the tax year 2022-2023, the average personal allowance is £12,570. If your income is below this threshold, you won’t fully utilize your personal allowance, and the unused part will be lost. For example, if your income is £15,570 and your personal allowance is £12,570, you would pay tax on the remaining £3,000. Any income below your personal allowance is tax-free, but any amount exceeding it will be subject to income tax.

Decrypting the Letter Part of the Tax Code

The letter part of the tax code indicates your specific circumstances and how they affect your personal allowance. The most common letter is “L,” which signifies that you are entitled to the standard tax-free personal allowance. However, there are various other codes that have specific meanings. For a detailed explanation of each code, refer to the provided link in the description.

Updating Your Tax Code

In most cases, HMRC automatically updates your tax code when there are changes in your income. For instance, if you start a new job or begin receiving a pension, your tax code will be updated accordingly. However, it’s essential to ensure that HMRC has accurate information about your income to avoid any incorrect tax codes.

There are several scenarios where you may need to update your tax code manually:

  1. Additional Income: If you start earning additional income from a new job or pension, you should update your tax code to reflect these changes.
  2. Job Benefits: If your employer informs HMRC about changes in your job-related benefits, such as a company car, make sure to update your tax code accordingly.
  3. State Benefits: If you begin receiving state benefits, it’s crucial to update your tax code to avoid any discrepancies.
  4. Marriage Allowance: If you become eligible for marriage allowance, you must update your tax code accordingly.
  5. Claiming Tax Relief: If you claim expenses that qualify for tax relief, make sure to inform HMRC and update your tax code.

For detailed instructions on how to update your tax code, check the link provided in the description. If you have any questions or need further clarification, feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Emergency Tax Codes

Emergency tax codes are often assigned by HMRC when there is insufficient information available to determine the correct amount of tax you should pay. This typically happens when you start a new job and haven’t received a P45 form, which notifies HMRC of your new employment. The emergency tax code ensures that you are taxed correctly until your P45 is received.

There are several emergency tax codes, but the main ones are M1, W1, X, and OT. M1 represents monthly payment, W1 is for weekly payment, X denotes a non-standard payment frequency, and OT signifies insufficient information about your employment. To know about other emergency tax codes, refer to the provided link in the description.


Understanding tax codes is essential for ensuring that you pay the correct amount of income tax. By deciphering the number and letter parts of your tax code, you can determine your personal allowance and how it affects your tax liability. Remember to update your tax code whenever there are changes in your income or employment status to avoid any discrepancies.

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Keywords: tax codes, tax code explanation, update tax codes, emergency tax codes, personal allowance, income tax.