You put an employee’s tax code into your payroll software to work out how much tax to deduct from their pay throughout the year.

This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

There’s a separate guide on tax codes if you’re an employee.

What you need to do

When you take on a new employee, you normally work out their tax code by using their P45. The code will usually be made up of several numbers and one letter, such as 1257L.

You usually need to update your employee’s tax code at the start of a new tax year. If the tax code changes during the year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will email you - you should update your payroll records as soon as possible.

Tax code 1257L

The most common tax code for tax year 2023 to 2024 is 1257L. It’s used for most people with one job and no untaxed income, unpaid tax or taxable benefits (for example a company car).

1257L is an emergency tax code only if followed by ‘W1’, ‘M1’ or ‘X’. Emergency codes can be used if a new employee does not have a P45.