Q. I have heard that with effect from 6th April 2010 my Annual Employers PAYE Return (form P35) has, in most cases, to be submitted online. Is this true and if so how complete and submit the return electronically?

A. On 5th April 2010 compulsory online filing of end of year returns will be extended to nearly all employers. If you have not already done so it is essential that you now start to prepare for the deadline in advance to avoid late filing penalties.

In 2002 a gradual process began to move all employers, depending on their staff numbers, away from paper end of year returns (forms P35) towards compulsory online filing. The tax year 2009-10 (ending on 5 April 2010) sees the end of this transitional period. Employers with 50 or fewer employees will no longer automatically receive a paper P35 end of year return from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and must now file these forms online together with accompanying P14s for all employees by 19th May 2010.

In order to file online you need to be registered with HM Revenue & Custom’s (HMRC) Online Services. You can do this on the HMRC website www.hmrc.gov.uk
following the link under ‘Do it online’. You will need both your employer PAYE and your Accounts Office reference numbers to do so. It can take up to a week for the activation code need to access the HMRC software to come through so this needs to be done within the immediate future.

You should note that if you have previously used HMRC’s online services you will already be registered to access the system, but you will still need to log in using your existing details and activate the PAYE online service – again, it could take up to seven days to receive your activation PIN so make sure you do not leave this to the last minute.

The end of year PAYE information from the paper P11 deduction sheets can be entered directly onto HMRC’s free online return but the system is only designed to cater for those employers who have employed 50 or fewer employees in 2009/10.

If you cannot use the HMRC system you will have to purchase commercial software and a list of accredited providers can be found on the HMRC website.

If you miss the deadline date of 19 May 2010 or file a paper return when you should have filed online and do not have a reasonable excuse for doing so then you can be fined up to £3,000 depending on the number of employees you have.

HMRC expect employers to make every effort to file online; what, if any, help they will give to employers who are not able to do so remains to be seen!

If you need any assistance with your online filing, call the TaxWise Advice Service on 01455 852555 and one of our specialists will be happy to help.