PAYE compliance reviews - HMRC has published guidance

HMRC have issued a new Compliance Operational Guidance Manual (COG) at for its own inspectors and, as it is also published online, it is available to the public generally.

The manual deals with how an HMRC inspector will prepare for a compliance review.  Due to limited staff resources, HMRC adopt a risk based approach and will mainly target employers that have had problems in the past or those that are in business sectors with a history of problems, but no business is immune.   

The manual describes the approach taken by HMRC when reviewing an employer's compliance with all aspects of PAYE (including National Minimum Wage), such as:-

  • How errors are identified
  • The extent of the employer's culpability is decided
  • The amount of unpaid income tax and NICs is quantified (including the interest and penalties due)
  • How a settlement can be reached with the employer.

The manual is essential reading for any employer who is the subject of a compliance review, and for any employer who wants to carry out a PAYE 'health check'.

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