How do I pay PAYE to HMRC? What payment methods are there? What payment reference should I use? 

This is a freeview 'At a glance' guide to paying PAYE to HMRC.

PAYE: paying HMRC what reference should I use?

If an incorrect payment reference is used, HMRC cannot tell where to allocate the payment and an automatic late payment penalty will apply. 

What reference do I use? 

If you pay on time you just need to use the 13-digit Accounts Office reference number. This can be found in the letter HMRC sent when you first registered as an employer.

Early or late payments

If you pay 14 days or more before/after the 22nd of the month you need to add a suffix to explain to HMRC which period the payment relates to or it may be misallocated. 

Add four numbers to the end of your 13-digit reference number to tell HMRC what year and month the payment relates to:

  • Two extra digits for the tax year (e.g. ‘25’ for 2024-25, ‘24’ for 2023-24).
  • Two extra digits for the month (e.g. ‘01’ for month 1 from 6 April to 5 May).

One-off payments: PAYE settlement agreements and penalties

  • The reference number to use should appear in the format ZA123456789012 on the payslip sent by HMRC (do not use this one, it is just an example).
  • If no reference or payslip is provided contact the tax office.

Which bank account do I pay? 

HMRC has two bank accounts for employer payments, with different account numbers and names. These cover:

It is advisable to check on HMRC's website that you are using the correct and up-to-date details. 

What payment methods can I use?

  • Direct Debit. Since 3 October 2022, variable payments can be set up. These allow amounts declared on returns, or lower amounts if there are available overpayments, to be settled by direct debit. Setup details can be found in August 2022's Employer Bulletin.
  • Online or telephone bank transfer. 
  • Debit or corporate credit card online. 
  • Cheque. 

From April 2024, employers will no longer receive or be able to request a replacement payment booklet to make PAYE payments at a bank or building society or to send with a cheque in the post. For 2024-25, employers can pay via post using a cheque with the reference number written on the back of the cheque.  

External links

HMRC: Pay employers' PAYE

HMRC: PAYE / NIC current year reference checker

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