This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

PAYE Manual

Employer returns: employer return - quality checks: paper quality checks

An employer / contractor is expected to submit an annual return or return part for eachincome tax year for which an employer scheme is in operation.

It is essential that returns are quality checked on the date ofreceipt.

Each individual return part must pass the quality standard checks.

Any return or return part which is incomplete or incorrect and fails the quality standardsmust be returned to the submitter.

Proforma / insolvency returns

Quality standard checks do not apply to pro-forma or returns with ‘Insolvency’written in green ink at the top of the form. Function RECORD RETURN RECEIPT must be usedto record receipt of these returns as having ‘passed’ the paper quality checks.

Incomplete / incorrect returns

All paper returns received must pass certain quality standard checks. Theappropriate checks to be made will depend on the year, submission type and scheme type.Returns may be regarded as incomplete / incorrect where any of the following apply

  • The return form is incomplete
  • The return is unsigned
  • The P35 return submitted is not the correct version for that tax year
  • The P14s submitted are not the correct version for that tax year
  • The return submitted is not an official P35 employer annual return
  • Substitute forms are unapproved versions
  • A paper form P35 is received without all the forms P14
  • Forms are unreadable for any of the following reasons



  • Faint print
  • Misaligned boxes
  • Carbon smudges
  • Small font size
  • Hole punches
  • Defaced form


  • Information is missing from the P35
  • P14s are not acceptable for any of the following reasons



  • NINO missing. (If NINO missing date of birth and gender must be given. Temporary NINOs are not acceptable)
  • Names missing
  • NIC boxes not completed (where appropriate)
  • Pay column not completed (where appropriate)
  • Use of sticky labels or correcting fluid
  • P14s not split
  • P14s glued or stapled together
  • P14s not de-sprocketed


  1. Photocopies of the official P35 can only be accepted where it is identical to the official form and the return bears the signature, in ink, of the relevant person.
We cannot accept photocopies of the completed forms P35 where the signature is also photocopied  
  1. If an employer intends to send the whole return by paper, then the return should be submitted as a complete return and not in parts

  2. The machines used to scan forms P14 can only read details on approved forms and photocopies are not acceptable

Correction of failed returns

In certain circumstances employer returns or return parts which fail the quality standardmay be corrected without returning the forms to the submitter. For more information seesubject ‘Correction Of Failed Returns’ PAYE40035.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)