How can I set up payroll without an accountant?

I need to set up tax, PAYE and NI for my limited company in the UK. Can I achieve this without an accountant?

Yes, it is entirely possible to set up payroll yourself, although you do need to know your way around a computer.

To DIY your payroll you can either buy an off-the-shelf payroll package or use the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) online payroll scheme.

But first, to get started we recommend you check out the HMRC useful guide available here: PAYE for employers, which will tell you all you need to know to get started as an employer.

HMRC have also created a handy list of all the best payroll software for UK small businesses as well as the best paid-for payroll software.

If you have any specific queries not answered by the information on HMRC’s website you can always call HMRC Employer Helpline but you will need your employer reference number when you call. The number is 0300 200 3200. It’s open from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm on Saturdays.

Further reading on payroll

To register for the HMRC online payroll scheme, you’ll need to quote your Employer PAYE reference and your Accounts Office reference.

See this link for all the information you need to start up the HMRC payroll scheme.

The online service helpdesk can be reached on 0300 200 3600 and it’s open the same hours as the Employer Helpline.

As an alternative to using HMRC and setting up payroll yourself, you might want to consider using a payroll bureau or an accountant to take care of your payroll processing. There are a number of payroll bureaux so costs are very competitive.

The main thing to bear in mind is that payroll bureaus have many customers and work to strict deadlines to meet processing requirements.

Many accountants offer payroll services, although generally at a higher cost than payroll bureaux, but sometimes on a more accommodative basis to their customer.

Discover more around small business payroll

Accountants that offer payroll services:

The Accountancy Partnership

Rouse Partners

SJD Accountancy

Watch the below video on setting up payroll for your small business has teamed up with Intuit Quickbooks to help you find the right Payroll software for your business. To find out more about getting your payroll and business finances all in one place, click here

Further reading on accounts

Which digital accounts software is right for your small business?

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for and from 2018 to 2019.

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