If you are self-employed or run a small business, you must be aware of the various tax laws and requirements in your area. These can vary wildly by region, but you’ll find the greatest differences country to country.
If you live within the United Kingdom and are self-employed, you’ll have to alert the government of your status. Each and every self-employed worker in the UK receives a UTR number, which stands for a unique taxpayer reference number. It is assigned to individuals by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (similar to the IRS in the United States), and is a requirement for registering your business and submitting your taxes.
And if you plan on filing tax returns online it is an absolute must. But it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to get your hands on.
Here is how you can go about obtaining your UTR number.
First of all, look through your legal documents to see if you might already have a UTR number and just not know it. Anything you’ve received from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs could contain the number, so look over your records carefully. The best places to start would be on any previous tax returns, statements of account or any notices to complete tax returns you might have received. It will always consist of ten-digits, but could be labeled “Tax Reference”, “UTR” or “Official Use” depending on the document.
If you cannot find this number, then you probably have yet to register yourself as self-employed. You’ll have to register either online, through the mail or over the phone, and once you handle the registration process you’ll have to wait for the number to arrive by mail.
Registering online will be the quickest way to handle things, and the HMRC website will accept registration by individuals in a partnership or sole traders. If you want to take care of it over the phone, you’ll have to do it at some point between 8AM and 8PM.
If you prefer to go through the mail, print and fill out form CWF1, and then send that in to the local branch of your tax office.
Regardless of how you register, you will always need certain details on hand. You’ll need to provide all of your basic contact information, including full name, address, telephone, email, date of birth, and your national insurance number. You’ll need all of that basic information for your business as well, such as name, address and phone number. You’ll also need to detail the nature of your business and when you started it.
Now that your self-employment has been registered, all you can do is sit back and wait.
It could take as long as six weeks to come through the mail, but you’ll see it on a notification form from HMRC. Of course it won’t be clearly referenced as a UTR number, as that would be too simple! It will be labeled here as “Our Ref”. Expect to hear a bit more from HMRC later down the line, when they send you information on timing for your tax returns.
Make sure you include your UTR number on any invoices you send to clients, and keep the number in a safe place so you don’t lose it.