Paying your PAYE – getting it right

The importance of PAYE payment reference numbers

At the end of one tax year and the start of the next it’s more important than ever to use the correct payment reference, especially if you pay very early or late. The reference you send with your payment is vital because it tells HMRC which employer record the payment relates to so it can be correctly allocated straight away.

Any delays in allocating your payment could mean you get a message saying you have paid late. You could also be charged late payment penalties and interest if you don’t pay on time and in full.

Common errors to avoid

Do not:

  • Use your Employer PAYE reference to pay. You should pay with your Accounts Office reference which is 13 digits long and is in the format 123PA00012345
  • Put extra information such as the type of tax you are paying after your Accounts Office reference. The only thing you should add, if you are paying early or late, is the 4 digit code signifying the tax year and tax month. Your reference then becomes 17 digits long. For example for an early or late payment relating to April 2015 the accounts office reference number 123PA00012345 becomes 123PA000123451601. (16 signifies the year 2015/16 and 01 signifies Month 1)
  • Continue to add the same 4 digit code to your Accounts Office reference to pay other months as this will result in payments being incorrectly allocated. Either remove these if you are paying on time or update them to show the tax year and tax month being paid.
  • Use words instead of your Accounts Office reference number, for instance your company name or the type of tax being paid.
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