PAYE and the UK Income Tax System
You pay tax on your wages through a system called Pay As You Earn, more commonly known as PAYE. Your employer uses this system to deduct Income Tax and National Insurance contributions before they pay you.
The amount you earn before tax and national insurance deductions have been taken into account is your 'gross salary'. The amount you get after the deductions have been made is called your 'net salary'. When you get a payslip, you'll see the gross salary you've earned including any bonuses, how much income tax has been deducted, how much National Insurance has been deducted and your take home pay or 'net salary' which is the amount you will actually receive after deductions.
As well as being taxed on your pay, you're also taxed on benefits your employer provides, such as a company car, a low interest loan or medical insurance. You may also have to pay tax on any Commission or Tips you receive as part of your job.
Income TaxIncome tax is your contribution to government spending on things like hospitals, public transport, and education. How much you pay depends on how much you earn.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) gives you a tax code which you can find on your payslip. Your employer uses your tax code to work out how much Income Tax to take off your wages through the PAYE system. It's important to remember that not all forms of income are 'taxable' and you're only taxed on income above a certain level.
What Counts as Taxable Income?Taxable income includes:
- Earnings from employment
- Earnings from self-employment
- Most pensions income (state, company and personal pensions)
- Interest on most savings
- Income from shares (dividends)
- Rental income
- Income paid to you by a trust
Tax Free AllowancesEveryone who is resident in the UK for tax purposes has a 'personal allowance' which is an amount of taxable income you are allowed to earn or receive each year tax free. This tax year (2017-18), the basic personal allowance (or tax free amount) is £11,500. You may be entitled to a higher personal allowance if you are 65 or over. If you are registered blind or are unable to perform any kind of work for which eyesight is essential, you can also claim the tax-free blind person's allowance. Income tax is only due on any taxable income that's above your tax free allowances.
Deductible Allowances and Reliefs That Can Reduce Income TaxThere are a number of deductible allowances and reliefs that can reduce your Income Tax bill further. These can include:
- The married couple's allowance (the husband, wife or civil partner has to be born before 6 April 1935)
- Maintenance payment relief (either you or your former spouse or civil partner has to have been born before 6 April 1935)
- Tax relief on pension contributions
- Donations to charity under 'gift aid' or 'payroll giving'
Unlike the tax free allowances, these aren't amounts of income you can receive tax free. Rather they are amounts that can reduce your tax bill.
How Much Income Tax Will I Need to Pay?After your tax free allowance (and any other deductible allowances and reliefs) have been considered, the amount of tax you pay on earned income (excluding tax on dividends and savings) is calculated using different tax rates and a series of tax bands.
After your tax allowances and tax reliefs are taken out, if you earn between £0 and £11,500 you won't pay income tax. From £11,501 up to £45,000 basic rate tax is payable at 20%. From £45001 up to £150,000 (higher rate), you are liable to pay 40% income Tax on your earnings in this bracket. As soon as your earnings are over £150,000 (additional rate), you are liable to pay 45% Income Tax on that proportion of your earnings. These figures correlate to the 2017-18 tax year.
How do I Pay my Income Tax?If you are an employee, your employer will deduct your Income Tax from your wages throughout the year and send it to HMRC. If, however, you are self-employed, you will need to complete a Self Assessment Tax Return which you can do online as well or in paper form and pay any Income Tax you owe in twice yearly instalments. The benefit of completing the form online however is that all the tax calculations are automatically done for you. This is also the case for paper forms but on a much shorter deadline.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will have all the answers to any of your tax questions.