Taxes

How to file income taxes in the UK in 2024

Do you need to submit a Self Assessment tax return for your UK income? Find out how to file and check when you need to file in 2024.

Income taxes in the UK
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By Sarah Fairman

Updated 21-2-2024

Most UK workers do not need to submit a tax return because their income tax contributions are taken directly from their salary via the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. However, there are some instances where you need to submit a Self Assessment tax return.

Find out whether you need to complete a tax return, how to do so, and the deadlines for filing and paying.

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UK income tax: overview and latest developments

Income tax is your contribution to the UK government’s spending on essential services such as public transport, the NHS, and education. This contribution comes from your earnings, and how much you pay depends on your annual income.

In addition to income tax, employees in the UK must pay National Insurance, a form of social security funding benefits and pensions. Most people make payments alongside income tax via PAYE or Self Assessment.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) oversees income tax in the UK.

Taxable income can include:

  • Your salary and benefits from employment
  • Business profits
  • State benefits and pensions
  • Rent
  • Interest on savings or investments
  • Dividends
  • Cryptoassets

Latest developments – November 2023

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the following in his 2023 Autumn Statement:

  • Class 1 employee national insurance contributions (NICs) will be reduced to 10% from 12% from 6 January 2024, impacting employees earning £12,570–50,720 per year.
  • Class 4 NICs will be reduced from 9% to 8% for self-employed people earning £12,570–50,720 per year.
  • Class 2 NICs will be abolished – contributions made by self-employed taxpayers, amounting to £3.45 per week.

In brief, these changes aim to alleviate the tax burden for many employees struggling with the cost of living in the UK. They will also save self-employed people around £350 per year. However, some commentators claim that, despite cuts to NICs, low earners “may not feel the full benefits.”

How much income tax will I pay in the UK in 2024?

Income tax in the UK falls into a series of bands. England, Wales, and Northern Ireland all use the same thresholds, while Scotland has its own tax bands.

2022–23 tax year (6 April 2022 – 5 April 2023)

England/Wales/Northern Ireland tax bandTaxable incomeIncome tax rate
Personal allowanceUp to £12,5700%
Basic rate£12,571–50,27020%
Higher rate£50,271–150,00040%
Additional rate£150,001+45%
Scotland tax bandTaxable incomeIncome tax rate
Personal allowance£12,5700%
Starter RateOver £12,571*–14,73219%
Scottish Basic RateOver £14,732–25,66820%
Intermediate RateOver £25,668–43,66221%
Higher RateOver £43,662 – £150,000**41%
Top RateOver £150,000**46%
* assumes individuals are in receipt of the Standard UK Personal Allowance.
** those earning more than £100,000 will see their Personal Allowance reduced by £1 for every £2 earned over £100,000.

2023–24 tax year (6 April 2023 – 5 April 2024)

England/Wales/Northern Ireland tax bandTaxable incomeIncome tax rate
Personal allowanceUp to £12,5700%
Basic rate£12,571–50,27020%
Higher rate£50,271–125,14040%
Additional rate£125,141+45%
Scotland tax bandTaxable incomeIncome tax rate
Personal allowance£12,5700%
Starter RateOver £12,571*–14,73219%
Scottish Basic RateOver £14,732–25,66820%
Intermediate RateOver £25,668–43,66221%
Higher RateOver £43,662 – £125,140**42%
Top RateOver £125,141**47%
* assumes individuals are in receipt of the Standard UK Personal Allowance.
** those earning more than £100,000 will see their Personal Allowance reduced by £1 for every £2 earned over £100,000.

Try one of the UK Government’s online tax calculators in order to determine how much tax you will pay. They also provide a ‘self-employed ready reckoner‘ to help entrepreneurs budget for their income tax bill.

Who pays income tax in the UK?

All residents of the UK must pay income tax to HMRC. Non-residents who earn income in the UK, such as rent or income from investments, must also pay UK income tax.

Close-up of HMRC tax forms

Under British law, you are considered a UK resident for the relevant tax year if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have been in the UK for at least 183 days during a tax year
  • Your main home is in the UK, and you have owned, rented, or lived in the country for at least 91 days, including 30 days during a tax year
  • You work full-time in the UK for 365 days with no significant break of 31 days or more. At least 274 of those days must be in the relevant tax year.

Who needs to file an income tax return?

Workers in the UK generally pay their income tax through the PAYE system. Under this arrangement, employers and pension providers deduct income tax and national insurance contributions before paying wages or pensions.

However, you may need to file a Self Assessment tax return if:

  • Your self-employment income exceeds £1,000 per year
  • You are in a business partnership
  • You earn over £100,000 per year from employment or pensions
  • You claim child benefit, and your (or your partner’s) income is over £50,000
  • You have earned £2,500 or more from untaxed income such as tips, property rentals, savings, investments, dividends, or foreign sources

UK income taxes for foreigners

The same rules apply to international residents of the UK, meaning they are taxed on their worldwide income. However, there are agreements to prevent double taxation with about 130 countries.

If you are taxed at the source of income from another country, you can usually claim tax relief to get some or all of this back. For example, international students who work in the UK do not need to pay UK tax on their income if their country has a double taxation treaty.

People with income from abroad should check the rules for each type. For example, most foreign income follows the same rules as UK earnings, but there are special circumstances for pensions, rent, and some types of employment.

Who is exempt from UK income tax?

Most people earning under £125,140 in the UK are entitled to a tax-free Personal Allowance of £12,570, so anyone earning below this amount may be due a refund on the tax they have paid. The Personal Allowance of £12,570 remains in effect until 2028.

Personal Allowances are higher for blind people, who can benefit from an additional £2,600 tax-free for 2022-23 and £2,600 for 2023-24.

Furthermore, married couples may transfer some of their tax-free amount to reduce their tax liability.

Specific rules govern individuals working in the following situations:

How to file your UK income tax: step-by-step and deadlines

The UK tax year runs from 6 April until 5 April. For example, the 2022-23 tax year ran from 6 April 2022 until 5 April 2023. Therefore, the following deadlines apply to the income earned during this period:

StepDeadline (2022-23 tax year)
Registration with HMRC5 October 2023
Submitting a paper return31 October 2023
Submitting an online return31 January 2024
Paying tax31 January 2024

In the event that you miss a tax deadline, you must usually pay a penalty. However, there are situations in which you can appeal against this. To find out more, read the UK government’s information on deadlines for various employment situations.

How to register for tax in the UK

When coming to work in the UK, one of the first things you should do is apply for a National Insurance number. This is used to track contributions to National Insurance, as a personal identifier, and to ensure you are paying the correct amount of tax. It is essential to pay tax in the UK, whether through PAYE or Self Assessment.

You can apply for a National Insurance number online via the UK Government.

Before filing your first Self Assessment tax return, you must register with HMRC. You can usually do this through your tax account on the UK Government Gateway. Otherwise, you can fill out one of the following forms and send it to HMRC:

  • Registering for Self Employment as a sole trader: CWF1
  • A new partnership: SA400
  • A partner in a partnership: SA401
  • Partners who are not individuals: SA402
  • Registering for Self Assessment for other reasons (not self-employed): SA1
Close-up of a pen in the act of filling in a tax form
Photo: PA Images via Getty Images

Once you have registered, you will receive a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), which you can use when filing.

Which forms do I need to fill out?

The most convenient way of filing your tax return is online via the UK Government Gateway. This also allows you to check your details and view previous tax returns.

However, you can also submit your return on a paper form. You will need the main form, SA100, on which you will fill out personal details, including:

  • UTR
  • NI number
  • Employer reference (if applicable)
  • Name and address

Form SA100 includes the following income:

  • Interest and dividends from UK banks and building societies
  • UK pensions, annuities, and other state benefits
  • Other UK income not included on supplementary pages (see below)
  • Child Benefit (if earning over £50,000)

This form is where you can record tax reliefs relating to pensions, charitable giving, Blind Person’s Allowance, and Marriage Allowance. You must also list Student Loan repayments.

The address for submitting a paper form from an address in the UK is:

Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AS

If you live abroad, use the following address:

HM Revenue and Customs
Benton Park View
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ
United Kingdom

Supplementary pages

In addition to SA100, you must complete supplementary pages – check gov.uk for a comprehensive list. They include:

NameForm numberWho it’s forWhat it includes
EmploymentSA102People with income from employment or directorshipsPay from employment minus UK tax
Benefits, including company cars and medical insurance
Employment expenses like travel
Self-employment (short)SA103SSelf-employed individuals with an annual business turnover of under £85,000Business income, including turnover
Business expenses like travel, goods for resale, and office space
Net profit and loss
Self-employment (full)SA103FSelf-employed people with an annual business turnover of over £85,000Business income
Net profit or loss
Business expenses
Capital allowances
Partnership (short)SA104SPartners in a business partnershipPartnership details
Partner’s share of profits or losses
Other adjustments
Partnership (full)SA104FPartners in a business partnership with complex financial affairsDetailed breakdown of partnership income and expenses
Extensive financial adjustments
Capital allowances
Balancing charges
UK propertySA105Individuals receiving rental incomeProperty details
Rental income
Allowable expenses for maintenance
Net profit or loss
ForeignSA106UK residents with foreign incomeInterest and dividends from overseas savings and investments
Income from foreign property
Overseas pensions, social security benefits, etc
Remitted income and gains
Foreign tax paid (for foreign tax credit relief)
Capital gainsSA108People who have disposed of assets like property, shares, and securities during the tax year, non-residents with capital gains on UK property or landGains or losses on disposal of residential properties
Other property assets
Shares and securities
Adjustments and reliefs
Non-resident capital gains tax
Residence, remittance basis etcSA109UK residents with international tax considerationsResidence status
Remittance basis
Personal allowances
Information about tax residence
Double taxation relief
Domicile status

The UK Government provides detailed notes for each form, which you should read carefully when completing a Self Assessment.

Deductibles and tax relief

When filling out your tax forms, it’s important to make a note of certain deductibles to lower your tax bill. If you are filing your own taxes or have expenses of £2,500 in a year, you must claim these deductibles on your Self Assessment return. Workers on the PAYE scheme can claim via the Government Gateway.

Work-related deductibles include:

  • Reimbursement for business travel. If your employer does not provide Mileage Allowance Payments (MAPs), you may claim tax relief on 45p per mile up to 100,000 miles and 25p per mile after that.
  • Expenses on business trips. These could include transport, accommodation, food and drink, or parking fees.
  • Work uniform expenses. HMRC has a list of occupations for which tax is deducted for employment-related clothing.
  • Membership fees from an HMRC-approved list of organizations
  • Costs for working from home, including energy and telephone costs.
Stone sign for HM Revenue & Customs

Meanwhile, you can also claim tax relief on certain personal payments:

How do I pay UK income tax?

There are several ways to pay your British income tax. For same or next-day transfers, you can do so:

  • Online via gov.uk
  • On the HMRC app
  • With your UK bank account
  • Via online or telephone banking
  • By CHAPS
  • With your corporate debit or credit card
  • At the bank or building society

Visit the UK Government website to find more ways to pay your tax.

Tax refunds

You may be entitled to a refund if you have paid too much tax in a fiscal year. This can happen if you had too much tax taken from your pay, stopped working, took out a pension or life annuity plan, or lived in one country and had income in another.

The UK Government provides an online tool to find out if you’re owed a tax refund. You can then claim what HMRC owes you through the government portal, and they should reply to you within a few weeks.

What happens if I don’t pay my income tax on time?

If you miss the deadline for submitting your tax return or paying what you owe, then you’ll have to pay a penalty fee of £100 if it is up to three months late. After that, the fine increases, and you may accrue interest.

HMRC will contact you if you miss a tax payment. Bear in mind that refusal to pay or contact HMRC can result in:

  • Being contacted by a debt collection agency
  • The amount owed being collected directly from wages, your bank account, or savings
  • HMRC taking your belongings and selling them
  • Being taken to court
  • Being made bankrupt

When you know you will not be able to pay your tax on time, get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible. In many situations, you can organize a payment plan to cover what you owe.

In order to avoid problems with tax filing in the UK, it’s a good idea to ask a professional for help, especially if your financial situation is complex.

Income tax advice

Although the above information provides a step-by-step overview of income tax returns in the UK, it should not be taken as tax advice for your individual situation.

However, as Self Assessment tax returns can be tricky, it’s strongly recommended to enlist the help of a tax adviser. Not only can they answer specific questions, but they can file taxes on your behalf.

When choosing a tax adviser, you should make sure they’re registered with one of the following bodies:

Check out Unbiased to browse financial advisers and find one who suits your needs. Finally, if you decide to take on your own tax return, it’s worth checking out the UK Government’s guidance on commercial software and advice on where to get help with your Self Assessment.

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