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 a letter, such as 1185L.

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 1185L

The most common tax code for tax year 2018 to 2019 is 1185L. It’s used for most people with one job and no untaxed income, unpaid tax or taxable benefits (for example a company car).

1185L is an emergency tax code only if followed by ‘W1’, ‘M1’ or ‘X’. Emergency codes can be used if a new employee doesn’t have a P45.