Emergency tax codes aren’t usually as scary as they sound, but they are worth getting sorted out quickly. An emergency tax code is only meant to be used temporarily, until your real tax code can be worked out. It could see you losing in tax than you owe, though.

If you're on an emergency tax code you’ll notice it first on your payslips. Here’s what they generally look like (using the Personal Allowance for 2021/22):

  • 1257 W1
  • 1257 M1
  • 1257 X

The problem with these emergency codes is that they’re “non-cumulative”. They won’t take into consideration all the circumstances that affect the tax you owe or any tax you’ve already paid. With an emergency tax code, all your income above your tax-free Personal Allowance gets taxed.

If you spot one of these emergency codes listed in your payslips (watch for the letters at the end. The numbers change with the Personal Allowance you qualify for) and don't know why it’s there, talk to RIFT as soon as possible.