Access to PAYE records online

Access to PAYE records online

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The Working Together discussion group looked a while ago at getting access to client PAYE records online - particularly payment details. In view of the new penalties for late in-year payments you may regard this is important.

The response we got from HMRC was that there were proposals for providing access to payment history for agents but that this would be by requesting a printout to be sent. It would seem that even that somewhat unsatisfactory option is not going to be available anytime soon due to lack of funding.

What do you think about this? Is it sufficiently important to be worth lobbying for. If you could comment below, and those who do think it is an issue could ask their professional body to take this up for them. That way we should get a lot of responses and then try and get a head of steam up.

Replies (27)

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By L Tonkin
05th Mar 2011 14:52

Louise Tonkin

Yes, please can we have access to PAYE, CIS and also VAT payment online. Many of my clients make time to pay arrangements and the different amounts being paid at different times to different HMRC departments means it is not difficult to lose track of which payment should be allocated to which liability.

If we can check this online, it not only makes our job much easier and quicker, but will reduce the number of times we have to contact HMRC. Maybe they just enjoy the chats with us!

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By Luke
05th Mar 2011 17:00

It would be very useful

Whilst they should of course keep records of payments, some clients just can't remember accurately whether they have paid a quarter's PAYE or other payment.  Being able to access payment records online would be very useful indeed.

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By Peter Tucker
05th Mar 2011 20:27

PAYE Online

Just to point out that as matters stand, details of the Tax and NI Contributions paid on a weekly or monthly basis would be exactly what ever the PAY reference paid to HMRC. This is obviously available from the person making the payment.

HMRC currently get details of the Total Annual payments when the Annual PAYE Return is made, i.e. all the Fors P14 and the Form P35, which summaries the Forms P14.

The proposal for PAYE Real Time information means that HMRC would have the "annual PAYE information" provided to them on a weekly or monthly basis, but as with the Annual Return HMRC is not proficient at allocating individual payments to individual Employer Records, There is also the slight problem that HMRC appear to be launching into Real Time Information by using a completely new method of electronic commuication, BACS.

If you want to know what the payments made to HMRC actually are, one would be best advised to retail hard and soft copies of both the amount and method of payment.

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
06th Mar 2011 11:00

Yes, please

As the person who raised the issue on the Working Together discussion group, I would ask (and have asked) you to continue lobbying for access to the HMRC record of our clients' PAYE payments.

If HMRC does not make this information available, they will be deluged with appeals and demands for their payment record when they start levying penalties for late payment of PAYE after the end of the 2010/11 tax year.  Yes - we can ask our clients to tell us not only how much, but when they paid their monthly or quarterly PAYE (I don't understand Peter Tucker's comment about paying PAYE weekly), but that is not to say that it was recorded by HMRC as the month/quarter intended by the client.  We are still going to need to see HMRC's record of the payments whenever there is any disagreement about dates.

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By FirstTab
06th Mar 2011 11:01

Yes it is important to be worth lobbying for

Some of my clients do thier own PAYE. Online records of PAYE payments would be helpful for me to pick up PAYE payments made. I end up calling HMRC on this. I cannot rely on clients. 

In the long term this drive and anything else to get more and more HMRC information online would save money. Govts don't think long term. It is only up to the next election!


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By Peter Tucker
06th Mar 2011 13:41

Access to PAYE Payment Information

The introduction of PAYE Real Time Information will mean that those Employers who pay a weekly wage, will be required to advise HMRC, on a weekly basis, of the details of Pay, Tax, NI Contributions etc. Those who paye montly, four weekly two weekly or any other period will also have to provide this information as and when the payments are made.

While it would seem sensible for information to be provided to Accountants and authorised representatives, one has to understand that HMRC have the problem / issue of not always being in a position to properly attribute information which has been provided to them.

This is one of the reasons that some 200 million NI Contributions have been - Made, Paid and Notified to HMRC, but the actual amount of the payment has NOT been allocated to any Individuals NI Record. The Employer provided all the information, but HMRC "could not trace" and therefore the Treasury have banked the payments, but the Contributor has not been credited.

Similar issues occur with payments of PAYE Income Tax, so to be honest, one would get more reliable information from the Client than HMRC unless HMRC make major changes, which would appear very unlikely. It may be worth having a look at the parliamentary debate on HMRC - 2nd March 2011 - where the following statement was made by Andrew Tyrie, Chair of the Parliamentary Treasury Committee:

"Ten years ago the Inland Revenue had the reputation of being one of the best run Departments in Whitehall. Today HMRC's reputation is in tatters as one disaster has followed another."Those are not my words but the considered conclusions of the Chartered Institute of Taxation in written evidence to the Treasury Committee. I have a stack of similar evidence from other qualified bodies and people, and they are all variations on the same theme-HMRC is close to being a failing institution in some areas.

The debate highlighted some of the reasons why getting HMRC to operate as a service providor may just be a hope too far.

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By Lee Tee
08th Mar 2011 10:46

Lee Tee

As a payroll adminstrator with approx 85 clients on our Bureau this is the next logical step in the Revenue's march to put everything online. We recently requested a printout for a client and receive a letter from the Revenue stating that they did not send this as as standard practice (Yes they do, I have received them many times) and it was our clients responsibilty to keep proper records so why were we requesting this type of information!!!!I think the reason they do not want to put them online is because they are in a terrible state, anyone who tries to understand the printout (when you can get them) invariable has great difficult in understanding them because they do not make sense.


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By fozia
08th Mar 2011 10:55

This is needed NOW!!!

Thank you Rebecca for digging this one up again.  I have only been begging for this at every local WTG event and HMRC event for the last 4 years!

It is astounding that Lord Carter has pushed the need for the tax payer to do everything online, without ensuring that HMRC do the same.  The various reasons/excuses I have heard over the years from HMRC for not having paye payment details online were:

1. "there is a security issue for having payment details online" (Oh please - they have had SA payments quite happily for years and that was a breakthrough)

2. "the IT systems are different and therefore it is not as easy to do this as it was for SA" (Why after so much investment in IT pre-credit crisis, is the HMRC's systems still not accessible - after all the other tax are available online!)

PAYE and CIS remain one of the most heavily penalised of taxes and now with the Real Time PAYE discussions and in-year penalties it is more important then ever to get access to information online for agents.  It would certainly save agents hours hanging on the phone waiting to speak to the accounts office.

A more recent problem I have found is that HMRC are allocating payments into the wrong months / years resulting in overpayment and underpayment requests - and we all know how much we love dealing with those:(

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08th Mar 2011 11:09

Absolutely vital

Yes, most DEFINITELY, for PAYE, VAT and everything else you can think of where insufficient info is currently available ... which, to my eyes at least, means everything apart from Corp Tax and Self Assessment.-- KH

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
08th Mar 2011 12:45

I need it myself, now!

We have just received a PAYE - Late Payment Penalty Warning letter for our own PAYE.  So, it is not a case of asking the client when they made the payments - I know the payments have been taken out of our bank account by direct debit on the 22nd of the month (21st in January) since November.  As the month and AO reference are not shown on the online DD payment plan confirmation, I have to wonder if I got one of them wrong.  Before November, we paid by internet transfer - perhaps, HMRC is only just sending out warnings now for late payment 6 months or more ago (after all, they do have previous on late PAYE penalties)?  Or, perhaps, there is an error in the HMRC system for identifying late payments?

The problem is that there is no HMRC address on the letter and no telephone number, so I don't know who to contact or how.  I tried the Shipley number (0845 366 7816) and it just rang unanswered for 15 minutes until I gave up.

Any suggestions, apart from online access to PAYE payments?

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By Suzanneg
08th Mar 2011 13:11

Yes please!

This would be very very welcome.

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By Ken Howard
08th Mar 2011 13:24

Unfit for making available

I imagine that it would be fairly easy (OK not easy, but "do-able") to make the account visible to the user, but I'm sure it's a matter of HMRC being embarrassed at how bad the record keeping is.  

Just look at the online SA accounts - virtually incomprehensible for anything other than a simple SA payment due and paid - once you get into amending POA, payment by instalment or transfers between years, you really have to resort to pen & paper because they just don't use the tried and tested methods of double entry journals etc - worst is where it say £x from payment made dd/mm/yy, but doesn't show the actual amount of the payment where it is allocated to more than one amount due.

Online corporation tax is a lot easier to use and more transparent but still have "lost" payments and re-allocations spanning different years yet somehow it still shows the right balance???

I'm convinced PAYE and VAT records are in a right shambles and equally convinced they show a lot of over-payments due back to businesses that HMRC keep quiet about - either because they want to keep the over-payment or they don't trust their records to be right and won't risk repaying if they're not right.  How is it that they're quick to resort to debt collection for PAYE/VAT for current periods being a month or two late, yet, for those same businesses, they don't tell the business that there are over-payments on account for earlier periods?  Time and time again, when I prepare a set of accounts, I find discrepancies and apparent tax overpayments, but HMRC never voluntarily repay, nor even tell the business.  I have to write to chase a refund and then they need documentary proof of an overpayment before they release it - their system should show the refund is due - why would they need additional proof unless they simply don't trust their system.  I think that putting PAYE and VAT online would highlight the apparent overpayments and invite a barrage of refund claims, and that is why there is HMRC reluctance to do it.



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08th Mar 2011 13:47

Working together e group

The more clarification we can obtain of what HMRC have on record regarding our clients tax payments the better and as everything is heading down the online route it would make sense to do this so I would support this initiative


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By adrian11
08th Mar 2011 14:14

Coudn't agree more!

We are a payroll bureau and agent for hundreds of clients. As such we are the first point of contact when the cleint wants to know if they are up to date wiht payments and if HMRC are chasing for payments. It would be a huge timesaver for us if we didn't have to waste hours on the phone to HMRC trying to get the figures in order to sort out the issues for our clients.

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08th Mar 2011 17:38

Online PAYE

PAYE is the one area where a huge amount of time is spent chasing up information on payments made.  There is no agents line to call so invariably there is a long wait before a call is answered.  The HMRC practice of allocating paid amounts arbitrarily between NI and IT does not help when trying to establish what payments have been received and how they have been treated.  It is a must have and the sooner the better; printouts would be a welcome start.

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By spurs1952
10th Mar 2011 10:57


 We had a PAYE cheque stolen and luckily found this out by other means, but it could of easily taken a year or so to find out that we still owed this money, and an available online current  Statement of Account would have shown the problem up right away.

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By pauljohnston
10th Mar 2011 11:01

Demands are getting worse

Just received a letter to paraphase " you owe tax, you have'nt paid were are going to send the baliffs in).  However as this is a PAYE case how do they know?  There is no liabillity for the whole year......

I have sent it back with the following note.  "As you think there is a liabillity please advise amount and when due".  The silence is loud.

I agree with other posters that PAYE is in such a mess that they dont want to go on-line.  We would be sending in corrections and as we already know they can not deal with the volume now.

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10th Mar 2011 11:14

Yes Please and NOW

Could never understand why this was not available when HMRC first developed the online services.  It would be such a timesaver for our payroll bureau at the year end.  We find you cannot trust the client to pay the correct amount of PAYE/NI and even though the return is sent to them for agreement of the figures, an incorrect return can still result. 

Denise Reid

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10th Mar 2011 12:04


I have several clients who only use "HMRC" (or worse!) to annotate payments be they PAYE, VAT, SA or CT. Add in their tendency to pay "on account" amounts and my work in reconciling figures at the year-end can be a nightmare. I'm for anything that gives me better info of my clients sometimes unsatisfactory records.

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By mpurcell
10th Mar 2011 12:24

We should not have to ask.

This is another HMRC classic of 'cart before horse'. They introduce a penalty system when their underlying records and systems are a complete shambles.

How many agents or taxpayers have received threatening letters for overdue PAYE and before you get an opportunity to open the envelope another one has arrived quoting a different amount? There is never any detail provided. If you have a day or two to waste on the telephone and can actually get through to speak to someone when they are not 'experiencing high call volumes' they invariably cannot fathom out the record because it has changed again. Once anything goes wrong there appears to be a random lottery type system for moving and allocating payments reminiscent of grains of sand shifting in the desert.

However, there is no reason why HMRC cannot provide access to a simple payments received list similar to the facility in self assessment. At least we could see whether we were starting from the same point.

No one would pay, or should be asked to pay, a demand for money without an explanation of how the amount is arrived at. It is a complete derogation of responsibility for HMRC to refuse to provide this basic information and adopt the stance that it is the taxpayer's duty to keep proper records and know what they owe. It is invariably not the taxpayer's records that are at fault.

Let us get this into perspective. It is our right to have access (whether online or not) to these payment records.


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By Tim Robinson
10th Mar 2011 13:24

Me Too

Please press for this Rebecca - and can you also remind HMRC that they promised to have tax codes online by October 2011 at the same time (I think its good to keep them focussed on that problem too)

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By kbrsf
10th Mar 2011 14:54

I agree.

If HMRC's records are accurate then they should allow access to PAYE, VAT and CT records.  If they do not agree then it can lead to two speculative possibility:-

a.  their records are inaccrate,  or

b.  their is institutional resistance

I would like to suggest that as an agent, i find the records are inaccurate, i will be willing to send evidence to show the correct balance.  in a way i will be helping HMRC to correct the tax payer's records.

It is in the interest of all tax payers to ensure that HMRC operates efficiently.  WTG can be a good vehicle to motivate HMRC to do the right thing.  If HMRC does not agree,  they should provide valid, reasonable and understandable reasons.


Kamlesh Rajput



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By cydsmith
10th Mar 2011 15:53

Yes Yes Yes!!

We definitelty need this facility, clients are certainly unreliable. Although if we admit this are HMRC going to say they are maintaining 'inadequate records'! We have one client who has time to pay agreements on PAYE, VAT and Corporation Tax and is also paying current contributions at the same time. His bank statements both online and printed only show the reference 'HMRC' so it's difficult to work out what payments are for and add to this the fact that he regularly pays them to the wrong place.............

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Tom McClelland
By TomMcClelland
10th Mar 2011 16:32

Not just Payment data, please

It isn't just payments that are the issue here

P35/P14/P45(1)/P45(3)/P46 all vanish down a black hole as you submit them by internet to HMRC with 3rd party software. And that is after those systems have been running for years with all the data collection and storage by HMRC of that information being fully automatic. It would be trivial matter to expose this information through an interface like the DPS but has HMRC done this, which would be INCREDIBLY helpful.

If you use 3rd party software you can't even see what you've filed through the manual web pages, let alone retrieve it electronically. What a nonsense! So you get situations where an employer is switching payroll providers mid-year and there is no way of finding out eg what P45/P46s have been filed already in that year.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that despite face to face agreement with HMRC officials in RTI consultation meetings that 2 way information-flow is an essential part of getting any chance of RTI working when it actually comes to it getting information back out of HMRC of what has been filed so far in the year electronically will be virtually impossible. A recipe for disaster in situations where for example an employer suffers data-loss or wants to change payroll software provider.

You wouldn't run a bank account where you couldn't get a statement easily. Such an idea would attract universal derision.

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
14th Mar 2011 12:33

Late DD payments

I was not the only employer to get a standard warning letter that one unspecified month's PAYE payment had not been received on time.  One of our clients, for whom we arrange the DD payment, had the same letter and obviously thought we had done something wrong, even though the DDs had been charged to their bank account on the 22nd each month.  They took the trouble to call their PAYE district and got the explanation that the HMRC computer system had suffered a "blip" and that while the DDs were taken, they were not recorded on the system.

Wouldn't you think that a human being at HMRC might have thought it odd that their system was suddenly generating masses of late payment warning letters for every employer paying by DD and done something to stop it?  Neither can I find any mention of this as a PAYE Service Issue.

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By sam dale
14th Mar 2011 14:52

It would be great

The corporation tax online works well and having the same for VAT and PAYE/NI would be fantastic. 

I realise that clients are meant to keep full records of payments made, and indeed could soon be fined for not doing so, but the reality is that some clients don't.  And if the client's company was short of funds and they paid it privately you'll never find it without help. 

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By kevinringer
16th Mar 2011 13:52

We definitely need access ...

... to payments of PAYE, CIS and VAT. We also need access for subbie taxpayers to view payments to them as reported by contractors – after all, most contractors now make returns online therefore HMRC could make the information available easily enough. We’ve been asking for this for years. Why is it that small software houses and introduce significant software enhancements quickly with no overall cost increase to the user, but HMRC with its multi-million £ budget cannot get these long-standing requests implemented?

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