Do you make PAYE payments to HMRC? If so, have you made sure that you are using the right PAYE reference? Using an incorrect reference number could mean that your payment is not recognised, and in some cases, result in penalties and charges being issued (even if you have paid on time).
Below we provide a few details about payment reference numbers and how you can identify yours…
What is a payment reference number?
Payment reference numbers are used to help HMRC allocate payments to the right place and as such, enable them to process payments as quickly as possible.
Each payment reference number is specific to the type of tax and accounting period that the payment relates to.
Paying PAYE – how can I find my payment reference?
If you’re paying on time for the current accounting period, you’ll need to use your 13-character Accounts Office reference. You can find this on:
- the letter HMRC provided when you first registered as an employer
- the front of your payment booklet
- the letter from HMRC that replaced the booklet
- your Business Tax Account, if you’ve already added Employer PAYE enrolment to it (you can search ‘Business Tax Account’ on GOV.UK to sign in)
If you’re not paying for the current period, you’ll need to add 4 extra characters to the end of your Accounts Office reference.
These final 4 characters will show the year and the month or quarter that your payment relates to. You’ll need to enter all 17 characters without any spaces. Details below:
- Characters 14 and 15 are for the tax year, for example, 22 for the tax year from 6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022, or 23 for the tax year from 6 April 2022 to 5 April 2023
- Characters 16 and 17 are for the tax month or quarter depending on how you pay – examples of these can be found in the sections below
Making monthly payments
If the payment you are making is not for the current period, examples of characters you’ll need to include in the payment reference can be found below. You can use the ‘Pay now’ tool on GOV.UK to find out which characters to use.
For the periods:
- 6 April to 5 May, use ’01’
- 6 May to 5 June, use ’02’
- 6 June to 5 July, use ’03’
- 6 July to 5 August, use ’04’
For example, to pay for the month ending 5 June 2022 (month 2 of the 2022/23 tax year), add the 4 extra characters 2302 to the end of your Accounts Office reference – 23 to tell HMRC it’s for the tax year ending 5 April 2023 and 02 to clarify it’s for month 2.
Making quarterly payments
When making a quarterly payment, you’ll need to include the characters relating to the relevant quarter below in your payment reference.
For the periods:
- 6 April to 5 July, use ’03’
- 6 July to 5 October, use ’06’
- 6 October to 5 January, use ’09’
- 6 January to 5 April, use ’12’
For example, to pay for the quarter ending 5 October 2021, add the 4 extra characters 2206 to the end of your Accounts Office reference – 22 to tell HMRC it’s for the tax year ending 5 April 2022 and 06 to tell them which quarter this relates to.
Making yearly payments
If you make annual payments, you’ll need to add 4 characters that identify the tax year and tax month in which you paid your employees.
For example, if you paid your employees on 8 April 2022, add the 4 extra characters 2301 to the end of your Accounts Office reference – 23 to tell HMRC it’s for the tax year ending 5 April 2023 and 01 to tell them it’s for month 1.
Hints and tips
- It’s worth being aware that some online banking services may default to a previous payment reference, so make sure you check that the payment reference is accurate, each and every time you submit a payment
- Remember that each tax period has a different payment reference number, so it’s important to make separate payments for each period
- You can find the correct reference number to use, each time, by visiting the ‘Pay now’ tool on GOV.UK
Get in touch
As always, our team are here to help and support you. If you are unsure about your PAYE reference, or would like to receive advice tailored to your specific situation, please get in touch with our payroll director, Julie Mason, using the button below.