What are PAYE forms P60, P45 and P11D?

They have mind-boggling names and are scary looking documents… but don’t be alarmed. Here’s everything you need to know about the work-related P60, P45 and P11D forms.

Straightforward paperwork

The first thing to remember about these forms is that they’re the most common pieces of paperwork employed people in the UK receive. They have a ridiculously formal title, but there’s honestly nothing to worry about.

If you’re new to the world of PAYE (the UK’s pay as you earn system, a method of paying income tax and national insurance contributions directly from your salary), these forms can look a bit intimidating at first. But, once you understand what they’re for, you’ll know why it’s worth checking them - and then keeping hold of them for your records.

All three forms are issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) – and its website is worth a visit if you want to get your head around HMRC and what it does with the money it collects from working people in the UK.

The P60

It may sound (and look!) a bit complex, but – simply put - the P60 is an official record of your income over the last year: it’s also referred to as an End of Year Certificate.

Issued to those paying tax and National Insurance through the PAYE system, it summarises the amount of tax and National Insurance you’ve paid for the tax year that’s just ended. It includes information on statutory pay (such as maternity/paternity payments) and any student loan deductions that have been made.

Before you bung it in the back of your desk drawer, it’s worth knowing that the P60 doesn’t just prove how much tax you’ve paid on your salary, it’s also an important document in its own right: if you’re applying for a bank loan or a mortgage, for example, you’ll need to provide your P60 as proof of income.

A P60 helps you make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax – and, if you’ve been paying too much, it can be used to claim back the overpayments. The P60 includes your employer’s PAYE reference number, a number you’ll need when you contact HMRC to claim a tax refund.

The P60 letter is also needed if you receive working tax credits - benefits used to reduce your income tax liability; the amount of credits you access is means-tested and dependent on your personal circumstances, but you’ll need a P60 to prove you’re on a low income. (It’s worth noting that Universal Credit is gradually being introduced across the country to replace working tax credits.)

If you’re an employer, you need to give every staff member on your payroll a P60 by the last day of the tax year (5th April).

The P45

If you leave your job during a tax year, you won’t receive a P60 from that employer - you’ll get a P45 instead.

Issued by the HMRC, and similar to a P60, the P45 shows how much tax you’ve paid on your salary – but it will only list earnings, tax and deductions to the date you left your job, not to the end of the tax year. A P45 will confirm who your employer was and will include your personal details, national insurance number and your employer’s PAYE reference number.

The form comes in four parts – but they are pretty straightforward. Part 1 is sent electronically to let HMRC know you’ve left your employer. Part 1A is for your own records, and Parts 2 and 3 are the sections you’ll give to your next employer - so it pays to put your P45 in a safe place. Once your new employer has your P45, they can put you on the right tax code.

If you’re not going straight into another job, you’ll need to show the Jobcentre Plus your P45 when you register as unemployed. Even if you don’t think you’ll be out of work for long, it’s well worth registering and informing HMRC that you are out of work as it ensures that your national insurance contributions will be paid, and your state pension won’t be affected. Plus, once you’ve registered as unemployed, you could be entitled to benefits and be given access to free employability courses and training schemes. Whatever the circumstances of your job coming to an end, you’re legally entitled to a P45, so always ask your employer for one before you clear your desk.

The P11D

Of all three forms, the P11D is the least common for employees to have to deal with, but it’s worth knowing what this end-of-year expenses and benefits paperwork is all about.

The P11D is used by employers to report any taxable end-of-year expenses and benefits in kind. Benefits in kind are perks, or so-called fringe benefits, that employees receive through their job but are not included in their pay packet. These benefits are things such as a company car, private medical insurance or an interest-free loan and also have to be declared.

Your employer uses a P11D to tell HMRC about any workplace benefits they’ve given you. If they use the form, they might give you a copy of it, although they’re not obliged to. Even if they don’t give you a copy of the form, they must tell you how much each benefit you’ve received is worth. If your employer takes the tax you owe on benefits out of your pay, they won’t need to give you a P11D – but they should clearly explain exactly how the tax is being paid.

Lost your forms?

If you lose any of your PAYE forms – don’t panic. Here’s what to do:

If you lose your P60, you should speak to your employer to see if they can provide you with a copy. Employers are required to keep a copy of your records from the past three years, so if a P60 has been issued within that time they’ll be able to provide you with a duplicate. If your last P60 was issued more than three years ago, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get another copy. Annoyingly, HMRC can’t provide copies of your P60s either. However, you can get your employer to issue a statement of earnings as a replacement and that will show the amount of tax you’ve paid.

If you’ve been given a P11D from your employer and it goes missing, you can start by asking your employer for a copy and, if they can’t provide one, just contact HMRC directly and they should be able to give you a copy.

Losing your P45 is a slightly trickier issue as a replacement can’t be issued. Again, you can ask your employer for a statement of earnings on company headed paper: this can be used if you’re applying for a tax rebate.

If you’re starting a new job and you don’t have your P45, your new employer can give you a starter checklist to complete, or ask you a set of questions about your finances to send to HMRC.

So, if the forms get lost, it’s not the end of the world: it’ll just create a bit of extra hassle. To save yourself the stress (and now you know exactly what these forms are for) keep them in a safe place so you know exactly where to find them if you need to.