These figures were correct for the 2018/19 tax year.

S1185L was the most common tax code in Scotland for the 2018/19 tax year, which started on 6th April 2018. The ‘S’ identifies you as a Scottish Income Tax payer. You usually get a new tax code at the beginning of a tax year because this is often when changes to your personal allowance come into effect.

In the rest of the UK, the equivalent tax code was 1185L.

What does it mean?

Nearly everyone is entitled to a tax-free personal allowance, which means that a certain amount of your earnings each year are paid to you without being taxed. If your tax code includes S1185L, it means your allowance is £11,850.

It is given to you in equal portions throughout the year, so that by the end of the tax year you have received your full allowance.

For example, if you are paid weekly, your allowance is equivalent to £228 per week. If you’re paid monthly, it’s £988 per month.

In Scotland, you will be taxed as follows:

  • 19% on earnings between £11,851 and £13,850
  • 20% on earnings between £13,851 and £24,000
  • 21% on earnings between £24,001 and £43,430
  • 41% on earnings between £43,430 and £150,000
  • 46% on earnings above £150,000

These figures assume that you are in receipt of a standard £11,850 personal allowance.

S1185L is a cumulative tax code, which means that if you return to work after a break or if you start working part-way through the tax year, your tax-free personal allowance will have been building up and you may pay less tax for a while.

However, if your tax code has W1 or M1 attached to it (e.g. S1185L-W1 or S1185L-M1), it’s non-cumulative. The tax due on each payment is therefore determined without taking into account any tax you’ve already paid this year, or how much of your tax-free personal allowance has been used. In other words, it can result in you overpaying tax. If you see either of these codes on your payslip, you might want to double check if this is the best tax code for you.