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Lost Your P45? Here’s What You Can Do About It

It can be a nightmare when you lose something, especially if it is an official document like your P45.

It’s made even worse if you’re under the pressure of filling out your tax return or being chased by your new employer so you can get paid correctly.

A P45 is an official tax form that summaries information about your pay and tax code. 

You can find more about your P45, what it looks like and why it is so important in this blog post.

So if you really have lost your P45, then here is what you can do about it and what will happen if you cannot get a copy from your old employer.

what to do if you lost your P45
What to do if you’ve lost your P45

Remember you only get a P45 when you leave a job that means you may not get one if you are:

  • Starting your very first job;
  • Taking on a second job;
  • Have been self-employed, or still are, and are taking on a job.

If in doubt speak to whoever handles the payroll in your new job for advice on what to do.

How to Get a Copy of Your P45

If you are on good terms with your previous employer, then start by asking them for a copy of your P45.

These days these types of HMRC documents are commonly issued electronically. So they may be able to email you a copy.

If your previous employer issues paper versions rather than electronic ones, then they will not be able to produce a new copy for you.

Employers are prohibited by law from reproducing or amending P45s due to the sensitive nature of the information contained on them.

It may be possible that they can produce a duplicate P45, but not all Employers are able or willing to do so. And they aren’t legally required to.

That being said, it is definitely worth asking for a duplicate by contacting your old employer.

What to Do If You Can’t Get a Replacement P45

If your previous employer is unable to help you, then you must contact HMRC as soon as possible.

They have all the information about your earnings, tax and tax codes. And for confidentiality reasons, this information cannot be shared with your new Employer.

You can contact HMRC on:

0300 200 3300

Don’t forget you’ll need to have your National Insurance Number ready to prove you are who you say you are.

What Happens If You’ve Lost Your P45 and You’re Starting a New Job

The best advice I can give you is to speak to your employer to let them know that you have misplaced your P45 as early into your new employment as possible.

That way they can get the right forms over to you to when they set you up on payroll.

Without a P45 your new employer will need to assess your situation to help them choose the right tax code to put you on until they receive notification from HMRC otherwise.

They’ll do this using a Starter Checklist.

What is a Starter Checklist?

This form replaces the old P46 form, which you may have heard of.

It is used when someone doesn’t have a P45 so that Employers can gather all the details they need them and establish the best tax code to put them on, in the absence of any prior information.

This form will need to be returned to your employer, not HMRC.

You can see what the HMRC starter checklist form looks like here. It asks for personal details, information on student loans as well as (most importantly) a statement from you about your personal situation:

lost p45
Employee Statement on the HMRC Starter Checklist

How you answer this question determine what tax code you’ll be put on.

What Tax Code Will You Receive from the Starter Checklist?

Let’s look at what happens depending on the box you tick:

Employee Statement A – This is my first job since 6 April and I’ve not been receiving taxable Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, taxable Incapacity Benefit, State or Occupational Pension.

If you answer A then you’ll be placed on the standard tax code which is 1250L for 2019/2020.

This is the tax code that most people are on and means you’re entitled to receive the full personal allowance .

The personal allowance for 2019/2020 is £12,500.

A tax year runs from 6th April to 5th April each year.

By choosing A you are telling your Employer that you have had no other forms of taxable income during the tax year.

If you are employed for an entire tax year your employer will give you a portion of your personal allowance every time they pay you.

For example, if you are paid monthly, you’ll receive £1,046.67 of tax-free pay each time you get paid. That’s worked out as £12,500/12.

If you have not had any other taxable income and start your job part way through the year, your employer will use this tax code to ensure that you receive any previous personal allowance you were entitled to in your first pay packet.

That could mean you pay no tax in the early part of your employment, depending on how much you earn.

Do not tick this box unless you are sure you haven’t received any other forms of taxable income otherwise you’ll end up owing HMRC money.

Employee Statement B – This is now my only job but since 6 April I’ve had another job, or received taxable Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or taxable Incapacity Benefit. I do not receive a State or Occupational Pension.

If you answer yes to this question you’ll be placed on a W1 or M1 tax code (that stands for week 1 or month 1, depending on whether you are paid weekly or monthly).

This statement indicates that you have been in receipt of other taxable income during the tax year that may affect your entitlement to the personal allowance.

If your P45 is missing, even though your previous employer may have given you your personal allowance, your new employer is unaware of how much you have been given.

In order to avoid you receiving too much personal allowance and needing to repay tax, your new employer will put you on a W1/M1 tax code until HMRC notifies them of what your code should be.

Your tax code will appear on your payslip as 1250W1 or 1250M1, depending on whether you get paid weekly or monthly.

You’ll get your personal allowance from the time that you start working in your new job, but you will not receive credit for any historic tax-free amounts (until notified by HMRC).

The W1 or M1 tax code is a temporary code and it will be amended to the correct code once your new employer receives instruction from HMRC.

If you are on a W1 or M1 tax code and your correct code has not been issued then you should call HMRC on 0300 200 3300 to discuss your situation and get it changed.

Remaining on a W1 or M1 tax code to the end of a tax year can mean that you end up paying too much tax and may be owed a refund.

Employee Statement C – As well as my new job, I have another job or receive a State or Occupational Pension.

If you choose this option your employer will put you on a BR (Basic Rate) or OT (Emergency) tax code.

It’s worth noting that if you do have another job, then you probably haven’t got a P45. You only get them when you end your employment with someone.

When a BR tax code is used no credit is given for the personal allowance and all earnings are taxed at 20%. That’s because their personal allowance being used somewhere else, such as in another employment.

If your earnings go above the basic rate and you pay tax at 40% or 45% then you’ll be placed on an OT tax code. Again, receiving no benefit for the personal allowance and your earnings being taxed in full.

Again, if you feel that either of these tax code has been used incorrectly or have not heard from HMRC regarding correcting them, then you must call HMRC on 0300 200 3300.

Being on a BR or OT tax code incorrectly means you are missing out on the tax-free personal allowance and that you are owed a tax refund.

Remember even if you are taxed heavily in one month, once your employer receives the correct tax code from HMRC they will your correct subsequent pay. So you’ll receive any personal allowance you may have missed out on.

That means it is in your interest to chase up HMRC sooner rather than later.

What to Do If You’ve Lost Your P45 and are Completing Your Tax Return

Completing your tax return can be time-consuming enough. But if you are missing paperwork, it can end up with things taking even longer.

If you had a job during the tax year you are completing your return for, then you’ll need to include details from your P60 or P45 in the employment section.

Including details from your employment will avoid you overpaying or underpaying on your final tax bill for the year.

If you have lost your P45 then there are a few things you can do to get hold of the figures you need.

Ask Your Ex Employer

As above, many employers now produce P45s electronically so they may be able to send you a copy of the one they have on file when you left their employment.

As I said they can’t reproduce or reissue a lost P45, so they may not be able to help you if they issue the paper version.

Check Your Payslips

If you have your payslips for the relevant months of the tax year that you were working then you can add up your gross earnings and tax from these and enter them on your tax return.

Call HMRC

If you contact HMRC on 0300 200 3300 they should be able to tell you your gross pay and tax over the phone.

Don’t forget to call the Student Loan helpline (0300 100 0611) to get details of the loan repayments you have made as these need to go onto your tax return too.

Need Help Completing Your Tax Return? Then take a look at my Step-By-Step Guide to Completing Your Tax Return >>

Wrapping Up

A missing P45 can be frustrating especially as employers are unable to issue replacement versions or produce new copies.

If you are moving to new employment, then speak with your new employer who will issue you with a form so they can get you added to payroll on a temporary tax code.

Updated 8 October 2019

Anita Forrest
About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of www.goselfemployed.co - a UK small business finance blog where she shares help and advice with the self-employed community to make topics like registering a business, bookkeeping and taxes easy to understand.