This guide explains how to sign up for and use the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) PAYE for Agents Online Service.
You can use the service to manage most aspects of your clients' employer PAYE affairs. You can file their returns and other forms online, as well as receive a wide range of notices and reminders.
You need to sign up for this online service whether you're planning to use HMRC's free software or commercially available software to file your clients' returns and forms.
PAYE and CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) online services for agents are combined in a single service - PAYE for Agents. Once you've signed up for PAYE for Agents, you'll get access to the CIS service too.
The guide also includes links to further information about how to report your clients' PAYE information to HMRC in real time.
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PAYE and CIS online services for agents are combined in a single service - PAYE for Agents. The service allows you to carry out many tasks online on behalf of your clients. It is safe, secure and reliable.
As an agent, you can use PAYE for Agents to send HMRC any of the following forms:
If you use the service HMRC can also send you various notices and reminders online, saving you and your clients time.
There are a number of forms and returns that you can't submit online to HMRC:
You can use the service to:
From April 2013, you should report your clients' payroll information in real time (you may see this called Real Time Information or RTI).
You'll still operate PAYE in the same way but you must submit the payroll information you already keep to HMRC on or before the day your clients pay their employees, using a Full Payment Submission (FPS).
Your payroll software will generate the new reports you need and submit the payroll information online. These will include details of:
You still submit reports online but these reports will be sent directly to HMRC using your payroll software or HMRC's Basic PAYE Tools.
You still need your PAYE for Agents login details (User ID and password) because although you can't log in directly to PAYE for Agents to report, you'll need them when your payroll software sends your reports through the Government Gateway (which uses the same User ID and password).
When you run payroll, your software gathers the PAYE information you send to HMRC, based on the payroll entries you make. You can use any RTI-enabled commercial payroll software (there are some free packages available) or HMRC's Basic PAYE Tools package which is designed for employers with nine employees or fewer.
If you've not already registered as an agent for PAYE or CIS, you need to do so. You'll receive a PAYE for employers agent code (known as an agent reference) which you'll need before you can set up the online service.
You can apply for your PAYE agent reference online. You also need this reference to set up CIS client authorisations. Simply complete and submit the online form, then stay online until your agent reference appears on-screen.
You'll have to wait for up to four days after receiving your agent reference before you can register for the PAYE/CIS service. This is to allow time for your details to be uploaded onto the HMRC system.
If you lose your agent reference, you should contact the Online Services Helpdesk.
Once you have your PAYE agent reference, there are two ways of signing up for the service.
You should log in to HMRC Online Services and add the PAYE for Agents service to your portfolio from the 'Services you can add' section of 'Your HMRC services'.
You need to register for HMRC Online Services then enrol for the PAYE for Agents online service by following the steps below:
The registration process only takes a few minutes to complete. You'll have to:
HMRC will send you an Activation Code (also known as an Activation PIN) by post within seven days of registering for PAYE for Agents. You must activate the service within 28 days of the date on the letter otherwise you'll have to go through the registration process again.
If you have your User ID and password but you have not received your Activation Code within 28 days of registration, you should check with the Online Services Helpdesk to ensure that HMRC has your correct address and postcode.
If the Activation Code has been lost or has expired, you can request a new code online through the Government Gateway website.
Once you've signed up for PAYE/CIS for Agents you can file forms on behalf of your clients immediately without authorisation, by acting as a 'filing only' agent.
However, to verify subcontractors for CIS or receive information on PAYE from HMRC on behalf of your clients, you'll need to be authorised by either:
To submit an online authorisation request for your client you'll need:
Please note: The authorisation code can take up to seven days to arrive. You will need to enter the code before the client appears on your client list, so ideally you need to do this well in advance of a filing deadline. You must enter the code within 30 days from the date on the letter, otherwise it will expire.
Any agent can file a return for CIS on a client's behalf, even if they're not authorised with HMRC for CIS matters.
However, if you want to file your clients' verification requests online using the PAYE for Agents service you need to be authorised to do so (see the sections above for more information).
But as a 'filing only' agent you won't be able to correct an error on a return or undertake other services like verifying subcontractors unless you're authorised. And HMRC's free CIS software doesn't support filing only agents, so you'd need to use commercially available software.
The first person to set up your HMRC online agent account is called an 'administrator' for online service purposes. The administrator can appoint other administrators and/or assistants to help you manage your clients' PAYE/CIS matters online. This is a useful facility if you want to allocate specific clients to different people in your organisation. You set up administrators and assistants on the Government Gateway website.