Understanding Text Codes and BR Tax Codes in the UK: How to Check Them

text codes and BR tax codes are integral components of the UK’s taxation system, serving distinct purposes and applied under specific circumstances. Understanding the nuances of these codes and regularly reviewing them is essential to ensure that you pay the correct amount of income tax in accordance with your financial situation. Whether you have multiple sources of income or pension earnings, staying informed about your tax codes helps you navigate the intricacies of the UK tax system with confidence and financial prudence.


Tax codes are an essential part of the United Kingdom’s tax system, and they play a crucial role in determining how much income tax you pay. Among the various tax codes used in the UK, two of the most common ones are the text code and the BR tax code. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into what these tax codes are, how they work, and how you can check your tax code to ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.

What is a Tax Code?

Before we dive into the specifics of text codes and BR tax codes, let’s first understand what a tax code is in the context of the UK tax system.

A tax code is a series of letters and numbers that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uses to determine how much income tax should be deducted from your earnings. It’s a way of indicating your personal tax-free allowance, which is the amount of money you can earn before you start paying income tax.

The Importance of the Right Tax Code

Having the correct tax code is crucial because it ensures that you are not overpaying or underpaying your income tax. If your tax code is incorrect, you could end up paying too much tax, which means you’re losing money you could otherwise have in your pocket. Conversely, if your tax code is too generous, you might end up with an unexpected tax bill.

Text Codes

A text code is a type of tax code that is typically used for individuals who have more than one source of income or receive benefits that impact their tax code. The “text” in text code stands for “total income from all sources.” This code is often used when someone has multiple sources of income, such as a part-time job or a pension, and the total income needs to be considered for tax calculations.

How to Decode a Text Code

Text codes are typically made up of several elements, including letters and numbers. Here’s how to decode a text code:

  1. Letters: The letters in a text code represent various aspects of your tax situation. For example, the letter “L” typically denotes the standard tax-free allowance, while “T” might indicate a temporary tax code.
  2. Numbers: The numbers in the code indicate the tax-free allowance amount and are used to calculate the amount of tax you should pay. For example, a text code like “1257L” might mean that you have a tax-free allowance of £12,570 for the tax year.

How to Check Your Text Code

It’s essential to regularly check your text code to ensure it is accurate. You can find your tax code on various documents, including your payslip, P60, or the annual coding notice sent by HMRC. To check your tax code online, you can use the HMRC’s online services or contact them directly.

BR Tax Code

The BR tax code, on the other hand, is quite different from the text code. BR stands for “Basic Rate,” and this tax code is used when an individual’s entire income is subject to the basic rate of income tax.

When is the BR Tax Code Used?

The BR tax code is usually applied in specific situations, such as:

  1. Second Job: If you have a second job and your income from it exceeds your personal allowance, your primary job will have a tax code with your full personal allowance, while your second job will have a BR tax code.
  2. Pension Income: If you receive a pension and your total income from your pension exceeds your personal allowance, your pension income may be taxed at the basic rate using the BR tax code.

How to Check Your BR Tax Code

Checking your BR tax code is as important as checking your text code. To find your BR tax code, you can look at your payslip or P60. It’s essential to ensure that this code is only applied to income sources that meet the criteria for the basic rate.

Common Tax Code Changes

Tax codes can change for various reasons, and it’s crucial to be aware of these changes to avoid any surprises when it comes to your tax liability. Some common reasons for tax code changes include:

Change in Income

If your income increases or decreases significantly, HMRC may adjust your tax code to reflect this change. This can happen if you get a new job, receive a pay raise, or experience a reduction in income.

Benefits and Allowances

Receiving benefits or allowances can also impact your tax code. These benefits can be tax-free or partially taxable, and HMRC will adjust your tax code accordingly.

Changes in Personal Circumstances

Life changes such as getting married or entering a civil partnership can lead to changes in your tax code. Additionally, if you become eligible for the Marriage Allowance, your tax code may be updated to reflect this.

Reviewing Your Tax Code

To ensure that your tax code accurately reflects your current circumstances, it’s essential to review it regularly. You can do this by checking your payslips, P60, or using HMRC’s online services. If you believe your tax code is incorrect, you should contact HMRC to rectify the situation.

How to Check Your Tax Code Online

Checking your tax code online is a convenient way to ensure that it is up to date and accurate. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Create an HMRC Online Account: If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to create an HMRC online account. You can do this on the HMRC website.
  2. Log In: Once you have an account, log in using your credentials.
  3. Access Your Personal Tax Account: Inside your account, you’ll find a section called “Your tax account.” Click on it to access your personal tax information.
  4. View Your Tax Code: Within your tax account, you can view your tax code and other tax-related information. Ensure that your tax code is correct and reflects your current circumstances.
  5. Update Your Tax Code: If you believe your tax code is incorrect, there should be an option to update it through the online portal. Follow the prompts to provide the necessary information and request a tax code change.


Understanding tax codes is crucial for ensuring that you pay the correct amount of income tax in the UK. Text codes are used for individuals with multiple income sources, while the BR tax code applies to those with income subject to the basic rate. Regularly checking your tax code, whether online or through official documents, is essential to avoid overpaying or underpaying your taxes. If you ever have doubts about the accuracy of your tax code, don’t hesitate to reach out to HMRC for assistance. By staying informed and proactive, you can navigate the UK tax system with confidence and financial peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the letters in a text code mean?

The letters in a text code represent various aspects of your tax situation. For example, “L” typically denotes the standard tax-free allowance, while “T” might indicate a temporary tax code.

Can I have multiple tax codes at the same time?

Yes, it’s possible to have multiple tax codes if you have more than one source of income or if you receive benefits that affect your tax code.

What should I do if I think my tax code is incorrect?

If you believe your tax code is incorrect, you should contact HMRC as soon as possible to rectify the situation. You can do this through their online services or by phone.

How often should I check my tax code?

It’s a good practice to check your tax code at the start of each tax year and whenever your circumstances change significantly.


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