Who needs a UTR number, anyway?

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Date: 17 December 2019

A yellow sticky note on a calendar marked ‘File Tax Return!’

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is required for all sole traders, partnerships and limited companies in the UK. It’s unique to that individual or organisation, and remains unchanged forever.

If you don’t have a UTR, you won’t be able to submit a Self Assessment tax return, therefore running the risk of upsetting HMRC. Plus, you may open yourself up to heavy penalties.

To help reiterate the importance of UTR numbers and how to acquire your own, we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to shed some light on their role in tax return submissions.

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What is a UTR?

A UTR helps HMRC identify and process tax returns against the correct taxpayer’s records. You will need a UTR if you have forms of income or expenses that require you to file a Self Assessment tax return.

If you have income that is not taxed under PAYE, and don’t act compliantly when it comes to your Self Assessment tax return, you could face criminal prosecution.

Who uses them?

Any individual with self-employed income or income from rental property needs a UTR. These individuals will need to perform a Self Assessment tax return.

For other taxpayers, it may also be relevant when registering for the Construction Industry Scheme or working with an accountant.

How can I get one?

As you won’t receive a UTR number unless you’re registered as either self-employed or a new business, you’ll need to do so on HMRC’s website. Alternatively, you can call them on 0300 200 3310. There is no charge for doing either.

Be careful if you have already started trading. HMRC expects you to register within three months of the end of your first month in business. You could be subject to heavy penalties if you fail to do so.

To avoid a fine, register as soon as you can with all the below information to hand:

  • your full name;
  • your date of birth;
  • your email address;
  • your home address;
  • your phone number;
  • your National Insurance number;
  • the date you started self-employment.

Double-check that you have fully completed the process if you’re still waiting on your UTR following registration.

What if I’m already registered for Self Assessment?

You should already have a UTR code somewhere. If you’ve misplaced it, start by checking any correspondence that you may have received from HMRC. All previous tax returns will reference it, along with any notices to file a return, payment reminders or statements of account.

In addition, your HMRC online account will also display the code, provided you can access it. If none of these options prove fruitful, contact the Self Assessment helpline.

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