Martin Lewis unpacks what your tax code means – check if yours is correct | Personal finance | Finance

Appearing on BBC Radio 5Live alongside presenter Nihal Arthanayake, the money-saving expert tackled financial matters that have stalled the show’s audience. One such question was about tax codes, a set of key numbers that help people pay their taxes.

One listener, Charlotte Pocket, wrote to Martin and Nihal and said: ‘Every year I get three or more letters with different tax codes, each saying I owe a certain amount of money. The amount changes with each letter.

“I don’t understand! It doesn’t matter where I look. I know the tax codes are my responsibility.

“But if HMRC don’t seem to understand what tax code I’m on, how on earth am I supposed to know?”

Martin pointed out that every year millions of tax codes are wrong, but it is up to the British to check this.

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For example, the letter L indicates that a person is entitled to the standard non-taxable personal allowance, according to the government website.

However, for those confused, Martin suggested this might need to be explored further.

He continued, “There are online tax code calculators that can try to translate your tax code.

“But at the end of the day, tax codes are quite complex, and if you can’t figure it out, I’m afraid that’s why we have a lot of accountants on the job across the country.

“It’s their job to do that and fix the problem for you.

“If this is a problem, you may need to get a professional to try and fix it.”

In most cases, HMRC will automatically update a tax code if a person’s income changes.

This information is usually provided by a person’s employer, for example, if they are starting a new job.

However, if HMRC has the wrong information about a person’s income, it could lead to an incorrect tax code.

For this reason, it is important for Britons to check that the tax authorities have up-to-date details of their income situation.

Martin Lewis is the founder and president of To join the 13 million people who receive his free weekly Money Tips email, go to

Nihal Arthanayake’s BBC Radio 5Live program airs Monday to Thursday from 1pm to 4pm.

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