Paying UK tax and National Insurance - an introduction

If you work in the UK, you will usually have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance on your wages. How much you pay - and how you pay - depends on how much you earn, and whether you work for someone (employed), or for yourself (self-employed).

On this page:

Income Tax and National Insurance: introduction

Income Tax

You usually pay Income Tax on your wages. You can earn some money each year without paying any Income Tax. This tax-free amount is called the 'Personal Allowance'. You pay Income Tax on anything over this. The more you earn, the higher the amount of Income Tax you pay.

National Insurance

National Insurance pays for some benefits and the State Pension.

If you are employed you will pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions if you earn above a certain amount.

If you are self-employed, you will pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions at a flat weekly amount and you will also pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions as a percentage of your taxable profits.

You can find out more about Income Tax and National Insurance by following the links below.

Find out more about Income Tax

Find out more about National Insurance

Find out more about the Personal Allowance

Find out about the current Income Tax Rates

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Your National Insurance number

To work in the UK you need a National Insurance number. You can start work without a National Insurance number but you must apply for one as soon as you start work.

To be able to apply you must be:

  • 16 years of age or over
  • resident in Great Britain (England, Wales or Scotland) and have a right to work in the UK

To apply for a National Insurance number, phone Jobcentre Plus on Tel 0845 600 0643. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday.

If you are already working but don't have a National Insurance number, you must get one.

You can find out more about National Insurance, and how to get a National Insurance number, by following the link below.

Find out more about National Insurance

Find out more about getting a National Insurance number

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Tax and National Insurance if you work for someone (employed)

If you work for someone, you are 'employed'. The person you work for is your 'employer'. Your employer takes tax and National Insurance from your wages and pays it to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Tax when you work for someone - find out more

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Tax and National Insurance if you work for yourself (self-employed)

If you work for yourself you are 'self-employed'. You have to register as self-employed and pay HMRC your tax and National Insurance yourself each year.

Tax when you work for yourself - find out more

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If you work in the construction (building) industry

If you want to work in the construction industry and you are not 'employed', you'll need to register for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

Tax when you work in construction - find out more

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