Tax penalties: failure to file PAYE returns online

Note: this is not the same thing as late filing - see Tax penalties: late filing because these measures are aimed at stopping people filing on paper returns.

Year end returns

Online filing of the Employer's annual return forms P35 and P14 was compulsory for most employers for years including 2013-14. Some employers will have also been permitted to file their annual returns on paper. This has now been superceded by Real Time Information reporting and from 2014-15 employers must report under RTI and file a FPS or EPS for their end of year. HMRC will still issue penalties if P35 and P14s have not been received by 19th April 2014.

In year returns

From 2010/11 large employers are expected to file P45s and P45s online. Fines for failures apply from 6 January 2011 on.

From 2011/12 small employers are also expected to file P45s and P46s online. Fines for failures apply from 6 January 2012.

Tax penalties

  • HMRC may impose a tax penalty for a failure to file a PAYE return online.
  • The size of fine depends on the form or return and size of employer.
  • The date on which fines start depend on whether the business is a large or small employer. Fines are raised on a quarterly basis.
  • The size of penalty depends on the number of employees.
  • There are exceptions for certain “care and support” employers and practising members of religious societies whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications.

Penalties for failing to file the Employer Annual Return (P35 and P14s) online

The penalty per form depends on the number of employees, subject to a maximum of £3,000 (Statutory Instrument 2029/2009)

No. of employees 2009/10 2010/11 on
1-5 £0 £100
6-49 100 £300
50-249 £600 £600
250-399 £900 £900
400-499 £1200 1200
500-599 £1500 £1500
600-699 £1800 £1800
700-799 £2100 £2100
800-899 £2400 £2400
900-999 £2700 £2700
1000 or more £3000 £3000

In-year returns: forms P45 and P46 for PAYE

When is the deadline?
The deadline for filing these forms online differs depending on the number of employees.:

  • 50 or more employees: online filing was complusory after 6 April 2009.
  • Fewer than 50 employees: online filing is complusory from 6 April 2011.


When to use

P45 Part 1

When an employee leaves your employment

P45 Part 3

When a new employee starts


When a new employee starts but it's either their first job or they don't have a P45 from their previous employer

P46 (Pen)

For sending details of a new pension or annuity that you start to pay.

P46 (Expat)

For certain employees seconded to work in the UK