When setting up a business, it seems as if there are so many vital pieces of information to keep track of – so what is a Unique Taxpayer Reference?

Navigating HMRC’s system of identifying numbers and paperwork doesn’t have to be complicated. Learn everything you need to know about Unique Taxpayer References in this article, including:

  • What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)?
  • How can I view my UTR
  • Why are UTRs important?
  • How can I get a UTR for my business?
  • What can I do if you lose my UTR?
  • How to manage your UTR and tax payments more efficiently

If you’re new to the world of business, handling financial admin can be a chore. Learn more about how Countingup can help you run your business below.

What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (or UTR) is a number that HMRC uses to track tax payments made by sole traders and companies. All UTRs are the same ten-digit length but sometimes can have the letter ‘K’ at the end. ‘K’ normally indicates someone is filing under Self Assessment.

UTRs will be used throughout your business’ trading; whether you’re a sole trader or run a limited company, your associated UTR still stay with you forever. In some tax guides or conversations with your accountant, UTR can also be called ‘tax reference’, but ultimately they mean the same thing.

How to view your UTR

Your UTR is available to view on your business tax account on HMRC’s website. If you’re a sole trader, your UTR will also be available on your Self Assessment notice. Similarly, limited company directors can view their company’s UTR on the documents from HMRC after the company was first registered with Companies House.

Why UTRs are important

UTRs are an essential part of any business owner’s records. They’re the identifying piece of information HMRC uses to record payments made by different taxpayers.

Because of this, your UTR allows you to indicate a certain tax payment as yours and no one else’s. It may be the case that inputting the wrong UTR may mean you can pay another person’s tax bill and still leave your own outstanding. Therefore, your UTR is one of the most important pieces of information your business has.

How to get a UTR for your business

You’ll receive a UTR when you set up your business and register with HMRC. Below we’ve briefly outlined how different businesses can do this.

Sole traders

Receiving a UTR for your business as a sole trader is easy: all you have to do is file for Self Assessment. Then, within a few weeks, you’ll receive a notice from HMRC providing you with a UTR to use in future.

There are a few considerations to be made before registering as a sole trader, including whether being a sole trader is right for you in the first place. Also whether the name you’d like to use for your business is already taken, if you need a business bank account and which financial records you’ll need to keep.

Read more about how to set up as a sole trader in our article How to register as a sole trader.

Limited Companies

Limited companies receive their UTR by registering with Companies House. Within 14 days of registering, HMRC will send you paperwork with the company’s own UTR, which you can later use to register for corporation tax.

Registering a limited company with Companies House takes a little more effort but can provide your business with key advantages. Setting up a limited company will require specific documents like a memorandum and articles of association, as well as disclosures of major shareholders involved and the appointed director.

Read more about how to set up a limited company in our article How to set up a small business with Companies House.

What to do if you lose your UTR

Your UTR for your business should be available on your business’ tax summary on HMRC’s website. A copy of your UTR will also have been included on the paperwork HMRC sent you when you first set up your business. However, if for whatever reason you can’t find these documents or you’re locked out of your online account with HMRC and need your UTR, you can contact HMRC for help.

The process for recovering a UTR varies depending on your business. Sole traders can call the Self Assessment helpline to request their UTR, while company directors can request their company’s UTR online

Because your business’ UTR is such a vital piece of information, make sure to keep a copy of it, along with the other important documents for your business, somewhere safe. 

How to manage your UTR and tax payments more efficiently

Managing your business’ financial health is a vital skill for any new entrepreneur, but keeping track of HMRC paperwork and recording expenses can be time-consuming and challenging. You can use the Countingup app to keep on top of your financial admin and faster.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app, providing a digital tax filing service. With tax estimates and VAT costs factored into your finances across your trading, Countingup makes handling your taxes for HMRC easier.

The Countingup app also offers real-time profit and loss reporting, automated invoicing tools and handy expense reminders, complete with a receipt capture system. With these innovative features, you can make sure your accounts are always up to date and accurate. 

Gain more insight into your business’ performance and stay tax compliant while trading. Find out more about Countingup here and sign up for free today.