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Use of HMRC PAYE software for very small practice

Can I use HMRC software for a very small number of two-employee clients

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I am winding down to semi-retire. I now have four companies (including my own) with one or two employees. I should like to cease using my current paid-for software and have been looking at the HMRC free software. Have any of you tried using this software for multiple clients, and if so, has it worked and any tips to help. Any and all assistance will be gratefully received.  

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By SteveHa
16th Mar 2021 13:08

Could you do it? Probably. Should you do it, I wouldn't touch HMRC software with a barge pole.

You could look at low volume options, such as (if they still do it) Avalara.

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By Adam12345
16th Mar 2021 13:09

Professional payroll software is worth every penny. Moneysoft, Birghtpay etc offer very reasonably priced software (Moneysoft starts at £148 per year for unlimited clients!).

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By Paul Crowley
16th Mar 2021 13:29

I would not
Clients use it and clients who do regularly claim that details go missing
Probably their own faults but you get from freeware what you pay for freeware

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By Duggimon
16th Mar 2021 13:37

Take what you want to earn per hour for your payroll work, multiply by the total number of filings for the year across all businesses, then divide by 6.

If the resulting figure is less than the cost of software that will save you ten minutes per filing, that software is a bargain, and I would suggest that is a very low bar to clear.

Not to mention the benefits of having support for your software and decent functionality.

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By memyself-eye
16th Mar 2021 13:56

Yes you can use it - it even provides payslips these days.
It's not as bad as some make out and it is free!

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By BigBadWolf
16th Mar 2021 14:23

https://www.12cloudpayroll.com/

I haven't used this myself but could a good free alternative

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Replying to BigBadWolf:
Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
18th Mar 2021 11:14

I use it all the time and it's very good. I have 12 clients on there at the moment. It's the free version of Payroo (and is identical) but isn't advertised / promoted much. It's a lot better than the other free offerings (such as Iris Payroll Basics).

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Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
16th Mar 2021 14:29

I used to use it when I started with just a few simple client payrolls, it's a bit clunky but does the job. I now use Moneysoft and well worth paying for me, but I get your position and would say it should do what you need but might take a bit longer.

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Replying to Hazel Accounts:
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By mikescore
16th Mar 2021 14:41

Hi Hazel
Many thanks for that. If I may, one question please, which was not clear to me from the HMRC guidance : Did you need to set up separate log-ins for each client or did you do all as effectively one ?

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Replying to mikescore:
Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
18th Mar 2021 11:28

So from memory BPT will let you open the program and add several employers which can all then be accessed without passwords (you may be able to add but as I'm a sole trader wasn't something I looked into). When you run the payroll to file RTI you need to access each company one at a time and enter your HMRC log-in each time to submit the RTI (I used my agent one for all), but it is one of the inconveniences of using it - I don't think it could store that info and do bulk filings. But as someone above said it now does payslips which I didn't when I used it so this may have changed too.

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By SXGuy
16th Mar 2021 14:30

Can't even get basic tools to run on any of my pcs since Windows 7 so it's a no from me

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By Charlie Carne
18th Mar 2021 11:34

You've got much bigger problems than use of payroll software if you're still using Win 7! There haven't been any security patches since January 2020, so you've been vulnerable to major security risks for 14 months!

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Replying to charliecarne:
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By SXGuy
18th Mar 2021 19:20

No, I said I haven't been able to get it to run since Windows 7. Meaning it hasnt worked since then, on win 8, 8.1 or 10

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By bettybobbymeggie
16th Mar 2021 15:14

I ran ten basic payrolls using BPT so yes it can be done.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
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By mikescore
17th Mar 2021 12:37

Thanks for that comment. Do you need to download the software for each PAYE reference or can you have a list of employers ? Much obliged for your help.

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Replying to mikescore:
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By ArianBloodwood
19th Mar 2021 11:07

I've used BPT for years for about 15 clients. It's certainly clunky but it's very reliable ( I run it on Ubuntu), and the help staff at HMRC are great - you can tell they're fond of the clunky little thing.

It only operates as a standalone app on a computer - no multi users, no cloud access, no login, no security. Real 1980s stuff.

You can have dozens of employers on it. It will be great for your 4 clients. And, as they say, the price is right.

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By Andrew Mann Keytime
18th Mar 2021 10:26

You download it once and then add each employer you require.

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By SecretariuS
18th Mar 2021 10:57

I have used it since it became available but just for 3 clients and my own with two employees. I have had no major problems. Because I am soon retiring altogether it is now just used for me with one employee. 2 or 3 years ago one client had 3 employees one of which went on maternity leave. Again no major problem using RTI. Currently using Windows 10.

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By Hut15
18th Mar 2021 11:05

I used it for a while when I was starting out - prior to that I had run payroll on paper P11s complete with tax tables etc. so it was a pleasant upgrade. I still occasionally use it to do odd bits for some clients. It is basic, and a bit of a rabbit warren to navigate, but it will be perfectly adequate for your scenario. If it now produces payslips, even better.

As it's free, why not put all your clients on it early in April and see how it goes? Leave yourself enough time to change to different software if you hate it.

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By Charlie Carne
18th Mar 2021 11:37

Free software is worth every penny. HMRC free software is worth even less than that! I would recommend that you stay well clear of the rubbish software put out by HMRC. If you only have a small number of clients, there's lots of inexpensive, professional software that will do what you need.

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Replying to charliecarne:
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By Hugo Fair
18th Mar 2021 11:59

You're missing the point ... if you use BPT then HMRC can't blame THEIR mistakes on YOUR software (which means a reduction in unpaid time trying to prove that a supposed fault is nothing to do with you). Absolutely worth every penny - unlike the (not so) cheap software that proliferates in the cloud, which can so easily live up to its name by dissolving into a miasma of broken promises.

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By KH
18th Mar 2021 13:36

Yes, it works well, if a bit clunky ... it is not fast, doesn't have any bells or whistles, but it does do what it says on the tin, "Basic", and it does it fine. I use it for 9 clients plus myself ... it's free, it works, and if you haven't got loads of payroll clients, it's great for the job.

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Replying to KH:
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By paulhammett
18th Mar 2021 14:21

I agree it’s cheap and cheerful but it works ok.

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By mikescore
18th Mar 2021 14:18

NOT A REPLY - JUST A BIG THANKYOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO RESPONDED. STILL THINKING ABOUT WHICH WAY TO GO BUT FEELING MUCH HAPPIER THEN A FEW DAYS AGO.

THANK YOU

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By richard.snape
18th Mar 2021 16:45

I have used it for many years without any problems.

To be fair my payroll is very simple, never any sick pay, maternity pay, student loans or corrections to do and only two employees.

Recently it seems to take several minutes to start each time. I think it is checking for software updates, but that may be because I don't use it very often as I tend to do a few months in advance at a time.

The payslips which are a comparitively new feature are rather basic with no year to date information on them.

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By DaveyJonesLocker
19th Mar 2021 11:27

I will be using it from next month as starting a quarterly payroll and six-monthly payroll and my current software doesn't support that

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