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deciphering PAYE codes

Deciphering PAYE Payment reference numbers for 2023-24

If you are anything like me, then each month when you make a payroll tax payment to HMRC you need to check what reference number to put on your payment to HMRC.  What reference number to use when paying HMRC PAYE is boring but important.  In fact it is important for any and all tax payments you make, but there is a particular issue with PAYE reference numbers.  So this brief article tells you how to work out the correct reference number to use for your PAYE payment.

The point is, if you don’t put the right PAYE reference number, HMRC has to guess how to allocate your payroll payment and this isn’t always the best way to organise things. Not putting the right reference number can often lead to issues on your account – which in turn can lead to inadvertent interest charges, or to being chased for payments that you have already made.  The thing is, you need to be in control.   HMRC will have given you a 12 digit reference number for your payments – but that reference just gets it onto your account.  You need to add another 4 digits to tell them to which month you want your specific payment allocated.

For example, an ordinary PAYE reference number has the format of 123AB45678910.   To tell HMRC which month and tax year this relates to, you add the number of the year and the month in the format YYMM onto the end.   Now this is where it can get confusing – the year and month that HMRC refer to is not a calendar year/month combination.  Oh no, that would be too simple!  Instead it is to a tax year and month.   So if you are paying the PAYE/NIC bill for your April 2022 payroll (which is due by 19 May incidentally), then this refers to the tax year 2023/24 and the first month of that tax year.   Which means the tax year is 24 and the tax month is 01 …which is not confusing at all is it?  

So to help out here is a list of the 4 digits to put at the end of your PAYE payment reference for the 2023/24 tax year:

April 2023                          2401

May 2023                           2402

June 2023                           2403

July 2023                            2404

August 2023                       2405

September 2023               2406

October 2023                     2407

November 2023                  2408

December 2023                  2409

January 2024                      2410

February 2024                   2411

March 2024                        2412

…and what PAYE reference do you need to use to pay your P11d or benefit in kind tax bill? If you need to pay the Class1a charge on your 2022/23 P11ds you can use month 13 or 2313 (and 23/24 would be 2413)

Hopefully I have shed a little light on what can be a confusing thing to get right.   Remember JVCA is here to help turn the confusing into the explained – so if you need an HMRC issue translated into plain English and resolved, get in touch.

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