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Using the Correct PAYE Reference

It’s critical to use the correct PAYE reference when making PAYE payments to HMRC; otherwise, the payment may not be recognised, and HMRC may levy penalties and taxes, even if the payment was paid on time.

Your payment reference number is unique to the type of tax and payment term for which you are making a payment. HMRC knows where to distribute the payment based on the characters in your payment reference number, which guarantees that the payment is allocated quickly.

All you need is your 13-character Accounts Office reference if you’re paying your PAYE on time in the current period.

You must add four extra characters at the end of your Accounts Office reference if you are not paying for the current period. The last four characters will indicate the tax year, month, or quarter for which your payment is made. There should be no spaces between any of the 17 characters.

For the tax year, use 22 for the 6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022 tax year, or 23 for the 6 April 2022 to 5 April 2023 tax year.

For the month:

  • 6 April to 5 May, use 01
  • 6 May to 5 June, use 02
  • 6 June to 5 July, use 03 and so on

For the quarter:

  • 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

It’s critical to make separate payments for each tax month because each has a different payment reference.

If HMRC wrongly allocates your payment, you must contact the employers hotline at 0300 200 3200 to have the payment re-assigned to the relevant period.

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