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Should you register as a sole trader or form a limited company?

by Admin

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A key decision when starting a business is which legal structure do you choose when registering. The three most common options are sole trader, limited company and ordinary business partnership, although most people become a sole trader. Sole traders make up about 59% (3.5m) of the total UK business population of 5.9m, and they include many freelancers, contractors and agency workers.

Ordinary business partnership members make up about 7% (405,000) and basically these are sole traders who go into business together. The UK also has about 2m (34%) active private limited companies. So, why do so many people in the UK who work for themselves operate as sole traders?

What is a sole trader?

Being a sole trader is the same as being self-employed. In law, you and your business are the same thing, which makes you personally responsible for your sole trader business debts. If you don’t build up large debts and your business is successful, this won’t be an issue, of course.

To become a sole trader, you must register for Self Assessment (SA), the system (UK tax authority) HMRC uses to collect tax from sole traders. You’ll then pay Income Tax on your profits during the tax year (20%, 40% or 45% depending on your income/earnings). You work out your profits by deducting your expenses and any allowances from your income/earnings/sales.

Sole trader NICs

Most self-employed people pay their National Insurance contributions (NICs) via SA:

  • Class 2 if your profits are £6,515 or more a year (£3.05 a week) and
  • Class 4 if your profits are £9,569 or more a year (9% on profits between £9,569 and £50,270 and 2% on profits over £50,270 – all figures quoted are for the 2021/22 tax year).

Declaring sole trader earnings and VAT

Sole traders aren’t required to submit annual accounts to HMRC, but they must maintain accurate financial records (which can be checked) and submit details of their income and business costs in their annual SA100 tax return, which must be filed each year.

If your VAT-taxable earnings/turnover goes over £85,000 a year (the current VAT threshold) or you know they will, you must register for VAT. You’ll then have to charge VAT, collect it and pay it to HMRC. This also applies to limited companies.

The advantages of being a sole trader

It’s very easy to register online for Self Assessment so you can start your sole trader business. There are no costs and the process is very quick (minutes not hours or days). The tax admin is much easier when compared to a limited company, which means it can be done quicker. This saves cost, whether you do it yourself or pay an accountant to do it for you.

The paperwork and financial record-keeping requirements when you’re a sole trader are minimal; completing your SA tax return is more straightforward and any losses you make can be offset against other income.

Many customers won’t care whether you’re a sole trader or not, as long as your prices, products and/or services meet their expectations. In any case, you can easily change to a limited company structure later if you wish. And sole traders can employ others and their businesses can grow and prosper.

Being a sole trader can give you much more flexibility and control over your business, because you’re not answerable to shareholders – and you won’t have to share your profits with them either. You will enjoy more privacy, too, because the annual accounts of limited companies must be published on the Companies House website, which means anyone can view them. Sole traders do not have to publish their annual accounts.

Sole trader v limited company: which is more tax-efficient?

Example 1

Sole trader profit = £50,000 Net income = £38,717

Ltd co profit = £50,000 Net income = £40,109

Difference = £1,392

 

Example 2

Sole trader profit = £100,000 Net income = £67,752

Ltd co profit = £100,000 Net income = £69,469

Difference = £1,717

 

Example 3

Sole trader profit = £150,000 Net income = £91,723

Ltd co profit = £150,000 Net income = £92,057

Difference = £334

 

These examples assume that all profits are extracted from the business, salary up to Secondary National Insurance threshold (£8,840) is taken and the remainder paid as dividends (2021/22 rates).

Conclusion

As the above examples show, operating as a limited company can reduce your tax bill. However, if you need to pay an accountant each month to look after your tax admin and complete your annual accounts and Corporation Tax returns, in reality, any financial advantage as the director of a limited company can be minimal or non-existent.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who decide to work for themselves register as a sole trader and many go on to establish and grow highly successful small businesses. In many ways, being a sole trader is the easier and cheaper choice and it need not hamper your business or your ambitions.

About GoSimpleTax

Income, expenses and tax submission all in one. GoSimpleTax will provide you with tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you might have missed.

The software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for the self-employed, sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to file their self-assessment giving hints and tips on savings along the way. GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you so there is no need for an accountant. Available on desktop or mobile application.

Try for free – Add up to five income and expense transactions per month and see your tax liability in real time – at no cost to you. Pay only when you are ready to submit or use other key features such as receipt uploading and HMRC direct submission.

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Thursday, September 9th, 2021 Income Tax, Jobs, National Insurance No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

How to claim mileage allowance when you’re self-employed

by Admin

If you use your own car for business, you may be able to claim a proportion of the actual total cost of buying and running your vehicle, including such things as insurance, repairs, servicing, fuel, etc. However, keeping track of every cost and working out the exact proportion of business use for your vehicle takes time and effort.

Instead, many self-employed people claim mileage allowance, a flat-rate scheme that provides a much simpler way to claim back the cost of using your own vehicle for business. Mileage allowance is part of a range of “simplified expenses” options that HMRC offers to self-employed people. They’re designed to make tax admin easier and quicker.

How much mileage allowance can you claim?

If you’re self-employed, you can claim a mileage allowance of:

  • 45p per business mile travelled in a car or van for the first 10,000 miles and
  • 25p per business mile thereafter
  • 24p a mile if you use your motorbike for business journeys.

If you travel with someone else who also works for your business, as the driver, you can claim an additional 5p per mile for each extra passenger. So, if three of you travel together, you can claim 45p + 10p per mile (two x 5p per mile for the two additional passengers) for the first 10,000 miles, then 25p + 10p per mile thereafter.

Need to know! Claiming mileage allowance doesn’t stop you claiming for other business travel expenses, such as train tickets and taxi rides. Parking tickets and toll fees while on business can also be claimed as a legitimate business expense.

When can’t mileage allowance be claimed?

You can’t claim mileage allowance for personal journeys, they must be made “wholly and exclusively for business purposes”. And neither can you claim mileage allowance for journeys to and from your usual place of work (ie your commercial business premises). You can claim for travel to a temporary workplace, for example, if you’re a plasterer who needs to travel to different sites and jobs.

Need to know! You cannot claim simplified expenses for a vehicle you’ve already claimed capital allowances for or one you’ve included as an expense when you worked out your business profits. Where necessary, seek guidance from an accountant.

Working out your business mileage

Logging your business mileage is a good idea, as it can make it far easier to later work out and claim your mileage allowance. And your claim is more likely to be accurate and credible if HMRC can see precise details of dates, miles travelled, journeys and reasons. HMRC can request proof during an investigation.

Manually recording your business mileage takes more time and effort, while scraps of paper and notebooks can go missing, so it’s better to record and store your mileage details in a spreadsheet/software, with data stored safely online. Many apps have been created to help business owners track and record their business travel mileage (some even use GPS to automatically measure business mileage).

Some self-employed business owners simply estimate their business mileage, by claiming for a percentage of their vehicle’s total annual mileage. So, if your car does 1,000 miles a month and you can show that half of that is for business use, you can claim mileage allowance of 6,000 miles a year (ie £2,700).

How to claim mileage allowance

Good accounting software will do all of the hard work for you, saving you lots of time and hassle. You enter your business mileage and it calculates your mileage allowance, which you enter into your Self-Assessment tax return. The amount is taken into account and your tax liability is reduced as a result.

If you use simplified expenses to claim mileage allowance, you cannot claim for motoring costs such as insurance, road tax or fuel, because these are accounted for within the mileage allowance.

Need to know! Deliberately inflating your mileage allowance claim can lead to penalties. HMRC takes a very dim view of anyone who deliberately enters false information into tax returns.

Further reading

Visit government website Gov.uk to read Travel – mileage and fuel rates and allowances. There is also an online tool that enables you to Check if simplified expenses could save your business money.

About GoSimpleTax

Income, Expenses and tax submission all in one. GoSimpleTax will provide you with tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you might have missed.

The software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for the self-employed, sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to file their self-assessment giving hints and tips on savings along the way. GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you so there is no need for an accountant. Available on desktop or mobile application.

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2021 Income Tax, Jobs No Comments

Self-employment: The challenges and how to overcome them

by Madaline Dunn

In the UK, there are over five million self-employed people. This figure has risen dramatically since the 1970s when only a small fraction of the workforce (8%) were self-employed. 

Of course, the trend towards self-employment stems from increased flexibility, greater creative freedom and the ability to be one’s “own boss”. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t challenges that come with the decision to break away from “traditional employment”.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll guide you through the challenges and potential pitfalls of self-employment and how to overcome them.

This article will explain:

  • The additional responsibilities that come with self-employment
  • The differences in maternity pay and parental rights 
  • How to manage finances 
  • The importance of good time management

What are the additional responsibilities of self-employment?

While self-employment can provide workers with a lot more freedom, there are additional responsibilities that individuals must fulfil when they go solo.

One particularly important responsibility is registering as self-employed with HMRC. Following this, self-employed professionals (whether sole trader, limited company or partnership) must complete a yearly Self-Assessment tax return and pay National Insurance (NI) contributions and income tax on profits earned. Additionally, self-employed individuals must still pay income tax and NI contributions even if they make a loss.  For help with calculating how much you owe HMRC, head over here.

Another responsibility for those who are self-employed is setting up a pension pot in preparation for your golden years. While employers must provide eligible employees with a workplace pension scheme and make contributions, self-employed people must choose their own pension plan. That said, only 31% of self-employed individuals are currently saving into a pension!

Most self-employed people opt for personal pensions, and there are few different types. These are:

  • Ordinary personal pensions
  • Stakeholder pensions
  • Self-invested personal pensions 

Some self-employed people are even eligible to use NEST (National Employment Savings Trust).

Of course, if a self-employed professional makes at least 30 years of NI contributions, they are entitled to a state pension. However, this is only £179.60 per week.

Setting up business insurance is also another factor that self-employed individuals should consider. Professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance are the most common types chosen by self-employed people.

What are the differences between maternity pay and parental rights?

Maternity pay and parental rights work slightly differently for self-employed people. Unfortunately, when self-employed, you aren’t eligible for maternity leave or typical maternity pay.

That said, instead, you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance (MA). Eligibility depends on whether you can fulfil the following criteria in the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date:

  • You have been self-employed for at least 26 weeks
  • You have earned (at least £30 a week in at least 13 weeks – not necessarily in succession

The total amount that a self-employed mother can earn is £151.20 per week, which is reduced to £27 a week for 39 weeks if there are insufficient Class 2 NI contributions.

Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent for fathers and partners who want to take time off.

Managing finances 

Unfortunately, when it comes to self-employment, there are financial challenges that you will face that other workers do not have to worry about. When you’re self-employed, you are in charge of your finances, so this means you’re responsible for:

  • Creating a business budget
  • Establishing a business bank account
  • Reviewing your finances
  • Consulting an accountant (if you feel the need to do so)

It’s also essential to check what you can claim in allowable expenses because this can save you a lot of money. Equally, due to self-employment being a bit more financially precarious than traditional employment, it’s wise to have some contingency money saved up.

By making sure you tick all of the above boxes, you’ll have less chance of facing financial struggles and avoid a lot of potential stress! 

It’s also important to note that it’s not the end of the world if you do come into financial difficulties. For example, if a client or customer fails to pay for the services you’ve delivered, there are steps in place for you to follow.

With late payments, you should immediately send a collection request. If this goes unheard, it’s a good idea to send a “statement of account” to the accounting department. This should include:

  • The invoice date and number
  • The amount owed
  • The work completed for which the owed

Often, late payments are just a mistake, but if no payment arrives within 30 days of the due date, the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act has your back. This piece of legislation outlines that self-employed workers can claim interest and debt recovery costs set at the Bank of England base rate, plus 8%.

The importance of good time management 

In order to ensure business success, self-employed workers must ensure that they have top-notch time management skills. To achieve this, there are a few helpful hints and tips you should follow.

Schedule your time well. Whether that’s selecting a time to deal with admin, plan contingency periods, or even free time, carefully planning your time will help you avoid stress and multitasking. 

Additionally, while it’s important to have a business email and a personal email, it’s also crucial to have set times to review your emails. Time-tracking can be helpful here, and there are plenty of apps out there that can help you with this.

Another way of achieving good time management is through outsourcing. Delegating tasks that you don’t have the time to complete can boost productivity and give you time to focus on tasks you have prioritised.

 

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Monday, June 28th, 2021 Jobs No Comments

Welcome to 2021!

by Admin

Well. 2020 was quite a year, for all of us, and unfortunately Covid-19 is still with us even as we go into 2021. Most of our plans that we made a year ago had to be rearranged or abandoned altogether, for reasons out of our control. New Year’s resolutions for a promotion or a new career were replaced by simply trying to make ends meet while on furlough or through redundancy.

I have had to adjust my expectations for 2020, as I’m sure most of you have too. It would be easy to be disappointed by all the things we have missed out on – but I think we should congratulate ourselves for coming this far! We have reasons to be optimistic as 2021 begins – vaccines for coronavirus, of course, and the possibility of being able to return to our favourite activities from before the pandemic. But also, the changes that the pandemic forced upon us, such as reduced business travel and easier working from home (for some), might continue even when Covid is no longer a concern.

So I would encourage you to look forward with optimism rather than backward with disappointment. Things will still be difficult at the start of 2021, but as the year goes on, things should gradually improve – and that’s worth waiting for!

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Friday, January 1st, 2021 Jobs No Comments

Who needs a UTR number anyway?

by Admin

** 25/01/21 HMRC updated their guidance to state that they would not be issuing fines for late self-assessment tax return submissions until 28th February 2021. However, the deadline of 31st January remains for payments and any late payments will incur interest at 2.6%.

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If you are a self-employed sole trader, partnership or limited company in the UK a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is required. The number is unique to the individual or organisation and will never change.

You will also need a UTR if you have other forms of income or expenses that require you to file a Self-Assessment tax return.

Should you not yet have a UTR you will be unable to submit your self-assessment tax return and could run the risk of upsetting HMRC. Penalties are introduced by HMRC for late filing**.

So, to help reiterate the importance of UTR numbers and how to correctly acquire your own, we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to shed some light on their role in tax return submissions.

What is a UTR?

A UTR helps HMRC identify and process tax returns against the correct taxpayer’s records.

If you have income outside of PAYE or own a business and don’t act compliantly when it comes to your Self-Assessment tax return, you could face criminal prosecution.

Who uses them? 

Any individual with self-employed income or income from rental property probably forms the biggest group that will need a UTR.

These individuals will need to perform a Self-Assessment tax return. For other taxpayers, it may also be relevant when registering for the Construction Industry Scheme or working with an accountant.

How can I get one?

As you won’t receive a UTR number unless you’re registered as either self-employed or a new business, you’ll need to do so on HMRC’s website. Alternatively, you can call them on 0300 200 3310. There is no cost to doing either.

Be careful if you have already started trading. HMRC expects you to register within at least three months of the end of your first month in business. They will consider strict penalties if you fail to do so.

To avoid these fines, register as soon as you can with all the below information to hand:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Email address
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • National Insurance number
  • The date you started self-employment

Double-check that you have fully completed the process if you’re still waiting on your UTR following registration.

What if I’m already registered?

You should already have a UTR code somewhere. If you’ve misplaced it, start by checking any correspondence that you may have received from HMRC. All previous tax returns will reference it, along with any notices you may have had to file a return, payment reminders or statements of account.

In addition, your HMRC online account will also display the code, provided you can access it. If none of these options prove fruitful, contact the Self-Assessment helpline.

About GoSimpleTax   

​GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for freelancers and the self-employed alike to log all their income and expenses. The software will provide you with hints and tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you may have missed.

Get started today, it is free to try – add up to five income and expense transactions per month and see your tax liability in real time at no cost to you. Pay only when you are ready to submit or use other key features such as receipt uploading.

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Monday, November 16th, 2020 Income Tax, Jobs, National Insurance No Comments

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