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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: PAYE: introduction to PAYE: annual returns: filing annual returns

Historically, employers could send their returns either online or on paper. From 2009-10, however, the majority of employers were required to file their returns online. See DMBM520205 for further information.

They can also send part submissions (for example P35 and P14s separate) but should submit their P35 last to ensure that all P14 parts are correctly linked to the P35.

The returns that can be filed online are:

  • P35 and P14s
  • P37 and P12s: Direct Collection or Direct Payment scheme
  • P38(A): Employer’s supplementary return
  • P11D(b): return of class 1A NIC.

The returns that can not be filed online and must be filed on paper are:

  • CIS 36: Construction Industry Scheme return of payments to subcontractors
  • P35(EP), P527 and P528: electoral payments returns
  • P253 and P524: examination payments returns
  • P440 and P35(TAS): tax award schemes
  • P35(PSS): profit sharing schemes
  • P35 (offshore protocol): Norwegian protocol schemes.

Online filing methods


Employers can file their return over the internet using:

  • software on HMRC’s website
  • HMRC’s Employers CD-ROM (small employers with less than 9 employees only)
  • third party software.

Employers can submit their return as a ‘test’ to see if it will pass HMRC quality checks. A ‘test’ return is not an acceptable return and must be followed up with a ‘live’ return submission.

Electronic Data Interface (EDI)

Filing by EDI is costly for employers so this method of filing is mainly used by large employers or those with a high turn-over of staff who have thousands of P14s to send.

Non-online filing methods

  1. Paper - employers can send returns by paper but they will face a penalty if they are required to file online.
  2. Magnetic media - only P14s can be filed by magnetic media; P35s have to be submitted by another method. From 2010, magnetic media is no longer accepted as an electronic method of filing returns.