What is a P46 and How Do You Get One?

A P46 is a tax document that individuals can fill out and give to a new employee, especially if they don’t have a P45 from their previous employer. Once the employer has received the P46 form, this allows them to decide which tax code, considering the income tax implications, is best to put the new employee on until HMRC send a P6 tax code notice for the tax year.

On this page you can find more information about how to get a new P46 form, what is a new starter checklist, and what information is required to complete one.

What is a P46 form?

While many employees will have a P45 from a past job, those who don’t are able to instead use a P46. Once filled out, the form can be sent to the new employer to help them decide as part of the payroll process on the most appropriate tax code to put the employee on.

The P46 form was replaced by the starter checklist, which has a very similar function and must also be filled out by the employee. Many people still refer to starter checklists as P46s and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

What is a P45?

An employee will receive a P45 when they leave a job so that it can be provided to their new employer. The details on a P45 helps the employer to setup the new employee with the correct tax code.

While this document should be automatically processed by the payroll team, workers should now how to get a P45 form. However, in some cases not everyone will have P45, meaning they can instead provide a P46 starter checklist for their new employer.

Why do I need a P46?

You’ll only need to fill out a P46 form if you don’t have a P45 from previous employment. Completing a P46 and sending it to your new employer is important as it will ensure that you pay the right amount of income tax.

If you don’t submit a P46, HMRC will put you on an emergency tax code. This means that you may end up overpaying tax and taking home less money than you expect. While you will get refunded for overpaid tax, this process can take some time.

Completing a starter checklist may also be required if you haven’t been in a paid role before or if you have a second job.

Do You Need a P46 for a First Job?

Because a P46 form is generally required for any new employee without a P45, then you will most likely be asked for a P46 by an employee before you start your first paid job.

This is because you won’t have a P45 and they will need the new starter checklist to help determine what your first tax code should be.

What’s included in a P46 form?

Details needed to fill out a P46 include personal information, such as address and national insurance number, as well as other questions needed to help choose the best tax code for a new starter. 

This means details about current circumstances, such as benefits received, along with student loan information.

What are the Sections on a P46 Form?

The first section of the P46 is straightforward as it simply requests personal information such as name and address. The employment start date is also required.

Next, the employee must choose whether Statement A, Statement B, or Statement C is applicable to them. The form lists the criteria for each of these statements, which includes details around pensions, benefits, and most recent employment.

The next section requests information about which Student Plan the employee is on, if applicable to them. Then the last part is a declaration which must be signed and dated.

Is a starter checklist the same as a P46?

While some people still refer to P46 forms, these were actually abolished in April 2013 in favour of the new starter checklist. The information and function of these two documents are almost identical, although the appearance and name are different.

The main difference is that the new starter checklist isn’t required to be sent off to HMRC. Instead, a new employee must return the completed form to their new employer so that their payroll department can process it and apply the correct tax code.

This change was due a reform in the payroll system being digitised, as employers now report payroll changes online rather than sending a physical copy of a P46 form in the post to HMRC.

How to get a P46

A P46 (or starter checklist) can be filled manually by downloading a printable form or, if you don’t have access to a printer, it can be completed as an online form.

Can I download a P46 form?

Finding out how to download a P46 form is simple. You can download a starter checklist as a PDF file which can be printed, and more information about them can be found on the HMRC website. These starter checklists replaced P46 forms, although they fulfil a similar function and require much of the same information.

For employers, the information needed from a new employee to submit to HMRC is listed on their website. Most information will be accessible through the employee’s P45, but if they don’t have one then you can request a “starter checklist”.

Can I complete a P46 online?

If you don’t want a physical copy of the form to fill out, you can also complete the new starter checklist online. While you cannot save this form, once you’ve filled it in you’ll be able to print a copy that can be sent to an employer by post.

How to complete the checklist

Are you unsure about what information you need to complete the starter checklist?

The form is very self-explanatory. You’ll need the employees personal details, such as name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number, as well as the employment start date.

Other necessary pieces of information include whether the employee has another job and if they receive any other income such as a pension or a form of benefits. You’ll also need to know if they are on a student loan plan and, if they are, which one.

What happens if an employee doesn’t provide P46 information?

If an employee is unable to provide either a P45 or the details necessary to complete a starter checklist, then this means they may not be put on the correct tax code. Until they are able to provide the correct details to the payroll team, they may therefore be put on an emergency tax code which could mean that they overpay income tax.