A pay-as-you-earn tax (PAYE) is a withholding tax on income payments to employees. Amounts withheld are treated as advance payments of income tax due. They are refundable to the extent they exceed tax as determined on tax returns. PAYE may include withholding the employee portion of insurance contributions or similar social benefit taxes. In most countries, they are determined by employers but subject to government review. PAYE is deducted from each paycheck by the employer and must be remitted promptly to the government. Most countries refer to income tax withholding by other terms, including pay-as-you-go tax.
PAYE is required in the United Kingdom on all payments of salary or other compensation. PAYE applies only if the compensation is expected to reach National Insurance Lower Income Level (£8,105 per year for 2012–2013). The amount of PAYE is determined by the employer based on the tax code and National Insurance category. The tax code is determined by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) based on the employee's expected tax allowances, exemptions and reliefs for the full tax year, and partly by the employee's expected other income. Published tables apply the tax code to determine the amount of tax to be deducted from the salary or wage paid to the employee. The employer is responsible for sending the tax on to HMRC each month.
PAYE is applied to sick pay, maternity pay, directors' fees and pensions (but not the state pension), as well as wages and salaries. Because the tax code reflects other income (including the state pension), the PAYE system typically results in the correct amount of tax being paid on all the income of a taxpayer, making a tax return redundant. However, if the taxpayer's affairs are complicated, a tax return may be required to determine the amount of tax payable or refundable.
Forms and reporting
The forms and reporting rules have changed significantly as a result of the shift to Real Time Information. It is no longer necessary to use forms P14, P46, and P35, and form P45 is now for employees' own records rather than for HMRC's use.
Devised by Sir Paul Chambers, PAYE was introduced into the UK in 1944, following trials in 1940-1941. As with many of the United Kingdom's institutional arrangements, the way in which the state collects income tax through PAYE owes much of its form and structure to the peculiarities of the era in which it was devised. The financial strain that the Second World War placed upon the country meant that the Treasury needed to collect more tax from many more people. This posed significant challenges to the government and to the many workers and employers who had previously never come into contact with the tax system.
PAYE in Ireland includes deduction of income tax and PRSI (Pay-Related Social Insurance) by employers from payments to employees. The amount is determined by employers based on a Certificate of Tax Credits and Standard Rate (Certificate) provided by Ireland Revenue (Revenue).
PAYE applies to earnings of all kinds arising from your employment, including bonuses, overtime and non-cash payments known as "benefits in kind" such as the use of company car.
Forms and reporting
Employees must apply to Revenue for the certificate by submitting Form 12A to Revenue. A certificate is issued at the beginning of each tax year based on the employee's personal circumstances. At the end of each tax year, the employer must give the employee a certificate of Pay, Tax and PRSI deducted during the year, Form P60.
A Form P45 is a certificate given by an employer to an employee on cessation of employment. This form certifies the employee's pay, tax and PRSI contributions from the start of the tax year to date of cessation and also certifies that the deductions have been made in accordance with the instructions given by Revenue.
If the PAYE is not the same as tax that would be due for the year, the employee must file Form 12, an annual tax return.
PAYE is deducted by employers from employees' salary or wages in New Zealand, and paid to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) on their behalf. It includes income tax and ACC earners' levy. PAYE is calculated by employers based on tax codes provided by the employee and tables provided by the IRD. Employees may calculate their expected tax and tax code using the KiwiSaver calculator.
Forms and reporting
Employees must provide their employer with a completed IR330 Tax code declaration form, advising their employer of their IRD number (which is one's identification number with the IRD) and the appropriate tax code for which to deduct in tax, and if required, student loan repayments. If an employer does not receive a correctly completed IR330, the employer may deduct tax at the "no-notification rate" of 45%.
Employers use either the IR340 (weekly/fortnightly) or IR341 (four-weekly/monthly) PAYE deduction tables to determine the appropriate amounts to deduct from an employee's wages. Every month, a employer must file a complete IR348 Employer monthly schedule with the IRD, stating the income and deductions of each employee. Tax withheld must be paid to the IRD monthly or semi-monthly, accompanied (or sent separately in the case of electronic payment) with a completed IR345 Employer deductions form.
Several other countries operate systems similar to PAYE that may be referred to as withholding tax or deduction of tax at source. See the articles listed below.
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) administers a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) tax withholding system. Employers must calculate the amount of income tax to withhold based on ATO tables, based on employee declarations.
Canada requires tax deduction at source on payments of compensation by employers. The deduction is required for Federal and provincial income taxes, Canada Pension Plan contributions, and Employment Insurance.
Most European Union member countries except France require withholding tax on wage payments.
Employers are required to withhold income tax on salary paid to employees. The tax must be paid to the government by the tenth day of the following month.
Withholding of income, Social Security and Medicare taxes is required in the United States. Income tax withholding applies to Federal and state income taxes. In addition, certain states impose other levies required to be withheld.
Notes and references
- HMRC: Day-to-day payroll
- HMRC: Employers' responsibility for PAYE
- HM Revenue & Customs: Taxation: Income tax today
- HM Revenue & Customs: Taxation: World War II and PAYE
- See IR website.
- See Canadian Revenue Agency guidance on Calculating deductions, which includes links to forms and calculators.