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P45 vs P60: What’s the Difference?

HMRC is well-known for its forms, and two of the most commonly-known forms  are the P45 and P60 forms. It’s tough to navigate the world of UK tax and employment documents, and the various codenames don’t make it any easier. P45 vs P60 is a common comparison, and in this blog we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the two forms.

In simple terms, here’s how P45 and P60 forms are different:

  • A P45 shows how much tax and National Insurance was paid for you by your employer (PAYE) for the tax year – up until the date you left that job
  • A P60 shows your salary and tax for the whole tax year, including how much you were paid and how much tax, student loan, and National Insurance was deducted

Want to know more? Let’s dig into the similarities and differences in a bit more depth...

What is the Difference Between P45 and P60?

What is a P45?

As we explain in our blog, What is a P45?, the P45 form is given to you by your employer at the end of your employment. Its role is to show HMRC the taxes and National Insurance Contributions (NIC) that you’ve paid through your salary (PAYE) within the tax year up to your final day working for the company.

The full name of the P45 form is “Details of employee leaving work”, and it makes sure you’re on the right tax code for HMRC to calculate what tax you should pay. You may also need your P45 when claiming tax refunds and benefits.

How do you get a P45?

To get a P45, you need to be leaving – or have recently left – your job. This is when a P45 should be given to you, regardless of your reason for leaving: whether you’ve quit, been fired, or even retired. If you don’t get a P45 automatically when you leave your job, you should ask for one. Your employer can’t say no, because they’re legally obliged to provide it.

What does a P45 look like?

A P45 is actually split into four sections. Part 1 will be sent directly by your employer to HMRC, and you will get Part 1A, Part 2, and Part 3. You can give Parts 2 and  3 to your new employer – or to Jobcentre Plus if you don’t have another job lined up. You can keep hold of Part 1A for your own records.

P45 form from HMRC
Image source: GOV.UK

What is a P60?

A P60 is a summary of your pay and your tax for the whole tax year – from 6th April to 5th April. It shows the total amount that you’ve been paid (salary, statutory pay, and/or bonuses) in the tax year, and includes the tax you’ve paid via PAYE, National Insurance Contributions, and student loan repayments.

Your P60 is useful for keeping tabs on your overall earnings and tax, and you might also need to show your P60 when reclaiming overpaid taxes, applying for benefits, doing a self-assessment tax return, or applying for a mortgage or bank loan.

To summarise, these are the main differences between P45 and P60:

A P60 isn’t given to you when you leave a job. Instead, you get it from your current employer at the end of the UK tax year. A P45 only includes the tax you’ve paid in the tax year up to the point you left a job, but a P60 covers the tax you’ve paid in the entire tax year.

How do you get a P60?

Your employer is obliged to give you a P60 if you’re still in their employment at the end of the tax year (5th April). They should get this to you by 31st May of that calendar year – either in hardcopy or electronically. If you own a company and earn  a salary from it, you’ll need to issue yourself a P60.

If you only have one job, you’ll only get one P60. If you’ve moved from one job to another in the same tax year, the information recorded in your previous P45 will have fed into your new job’s P60 – to show your total numbers for that tax year. If you’re working multiple jobs at the same time and still employed by all of them on 5th April, you should get multiple P60s for that tax year – one from each employer.

Don’t worry if you’ve lost your P60, just ask your current employer – they should keep copies for 3 years. But remember, unfortunately ex-employers aren’t obliged to keep copies of your P60.

What does a P60 look like?

Unlike a P45, a P60 form only has one main part. You’ll see the following similar personal information a P60: name, address, National Insurance number, PAYE reference, etc. However, the numbers will usually be different on a P60, because you’re looking at what you’ve earned and paid in tax over the whole tax year, not just the tax year up until you left the job.

P60 form from HMRC
Image source: GOV.UK

Can you get a P45 and P60 together?

It’s feasible, yes. But technically, P60s can only be issued by current employers. So it depends on timings. If you leave a job in April or May, your employer may have already issued the P60 for the previous tax year. You might receive your P45 within the same period of time, although it’ll only include the tax you’ve paid within the few weeks of your employment that land in that tax year (6th April to 5th April).