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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Working the enquiry: general payments on account: how to process a payment on account

This page explains what to do if the taxpayer makes a

Payment by cheque
Payment by an alternative method requiring a reference number
Payment by debit or credit card

It also explains what you do if the total Payments on account exceed the settlement amount.

Payment by cheque

On the day you receive the cheque you must

  1. ask the SAFE nominee (this includes staff who work in Local Compliance) to produce a printed SAFE payslip (PS2) showing the taxpayer’s 15 character SAFE customer reference
  2. send the cheque and payslip to BancTec following the guidance in DMB’s help card - Banking BA014
  3. check whether a disclaimer letter is needed EM1937, otherwise
  4. send a letter acknowledging receipt of a payment on account for the relevant amount.

Where, exceptionally, a SAFE customer reference has not yet been set up, ask the SAFE nominee or if you are in Local Compliance, the centralised SAFE team, to set one up for you.

Payment by an alternative method requiring a reference number

In all cases where the taxpayer makes a payment by any of the alternative methods that are available, including debit or credit card, take the following action.

  1. Ask the SAFE nominee to produce a SAFE payslip (PS2) showing the taxpayer’s 15 character SAFE customer reference.
  2. Check whether a disclaimer letter is needed, see EM1937 and if so include the text below.
  3. If a disclaimer letter is not required, send a letter confirming the SAFE customer reference, using the wording below.

‘Thank you for your request for a reference number to make a payment on account. The reference number is [insert 15 character reference]. You can find information and help about how to make a payment on our website/ at

Payments made using this reference number can only be accepted by HMRC as payments on account.

Note: The 15 character customer reference number must not be given over the telephone or at a meeting unless you have already issued the details in writing. This is to avoid payments being accepted without a disclaimer.

Payment by debit or credit card

Whenever a taxpayer wishes to make a payment using a debit or credit card you must follow the guidance for alternative methods above. This means that before you issue the contact number below you will clearly advise the taxpayer in writing that any payments they make using the 15 character customer reference can only be accepted as payment on account.

You must also ask the taxpayer to make the payment through a single point of contact in DMB. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) Do not give out this number until you have advised the taxpayer in writing as described above.

Payments on account exceed the settlement amount

Where, exceptionally, the payments on account exceed the amount of the settlement, you should find out whether there are any collectible debts the overpayment can be set against.

If there are none, you should authorise the Miscellaneous Charges Unit to repay the excess. To authorise a repayment you must complete a SAFE repayment stencil (SAFE 1 new), which is available in SEES.

While such a payment does not strictly attract repayment interest or supplement, the Miscellaneous Charges Unit may add a sum in lieu of interest if this is appropriate.