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

HMRC internal manual

PAYE Manual

Employer returns: capture employer return - 2005 onwards: nil returns - 2005 onwards

This subject relates to tax years 2004-05 onwards.

An employer / contractor only has to make an annual return (forms P35 and P14) where a PAYE scheme is required.

A PAYE scheme is only required where one or more of the following occurs / arises

  • Payments at or above the lower earnings limit are made to directors / employees
  • Payments are made to a director / employee who receives payments from another job or pension
  • Benefits and / or expenses are provided to a director / employee
  • Payments are made to subcontractors

Or exceptionally

  • When a limited company wishes to claim a refund of CIS deductions suffered only

Note: If none of the above occur it is not necessary for the employer / contractor to have a PAYE scheme.

Employers do not need to send back a P35 just because we sent them one. For example, a P35 is not necessary

  • Where all the employees were paid below the lower earnings limit for National Insurance (assuming tax was also not due)


  • Where there were no employees during the year and the directors’ remuneration was nil

However, employers may wish to tell us that no return is due to avoid the issue of unnecessary reminders and automatic penalties for not filing a return.

Employers can tell us that they do not need to make a return by

  • Telephone
  • Post
  • An online structured email form - one for employers and one for agents to make a declaration on behalf of their clients (up to a maximum of eight employers). On receipt of a completed form a centralised team in East Kilbride will send an acknowledgement followed by a further email when the form has been processed. The online e-mail form can be found on the HMRC website under ‘Notifying HMRC if you have no Employer Annual Return to make’

If you are told by telephone you must ask the basic questions to satisfy yourself that no return is due

  1. Has the employer been authorised to pay tax credits to any employees or received any tax credit funding (for years to 2005-06)?

  2. Was any employee / director paid enough to use a deductions working sheet?

  3. Have payments been made to an employee / director in receipt of payments from another job or pension?

  4. Have benefits / expenses been provided to employees / directors?

  5. Have payments been made to a subcontractor?

And exceptionally

  1. Is the employer a limited company and intend to claim CIS deductions suffered only?

For years 2005 to 2007

An answer of ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, apart from Number 4, means that this is not a nil return and you should tell the employer that they must make a return.

If you have decided that no return is due, follow PAYE21021.

For 2008 onwards

An answer of ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, apart from Question 4, means that this is not a nil return and you should tell the employer that they must make a P35 return.

Where the answer to Questions 5 is ‘yes’, follow PAYE27035 to consider changing the scheme type.

If you decide that no return is due, follow PAYE21021.

Forms P35 with forms P14

As a result of changes to the legislation relating to entitlement to benefits NICO require submission of forms P14 where

  • Details of earnings are shown in column 1a of form P14

And those earnings

  • Reach or exceed the NIC lower earnings limit, even though no contributions may be paid

When a form P35 recording nil deductions is received together with forms P14 that show any entries in the earnings column 1a you must

  • Use Function RECORD RETURN RECEIPT to record receipt of the return
  • Use Function CAPTURE EOY RETURN DETAILS to capture the return details

Capturing P35 charge on ETMP

Where you have a P35 return captured on EBS for tax years 2013-14 onwards you will be required to manually capture the charge in ETMP. To do this, follow guidance at PAYE43210.


When a nil return is received it is important that the employer record is reviewed to ascertain whether it is appropriate to cease or cancel the employer record. This will ensure that only live employer records are held where a return is expected and due.