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First 5 Steps to Self Employment

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For many people, becoming their own boss is the dream. They get to work in an industry they love, choosing their own clients and – better yet – their own hours. The only problem is that becoming self-employed isn’t that straightforward. At least, not on the surface.

After all, having to evaluate your income and manage your own tax affairs can be daunting. That’s why we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to help set your mind at ease, by providing his first five steps to self-employment.

  1. Register as self-employed

First things first, you need to let HMRC know that you’ll be paying your own Income Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) moving forward. You’ll need to do this as soon as possible – no later than the 5th October after the end of the tax year in which you first became self-employed. So, if you become self-employed between 6th April 2021 and 5th April 2022, you have until 5th October 2022. It’s a relatively simple process though. All you need to do is register on the GOV.UK website, or fill in an on-screen form to then post to HMRC.

  1. Get to grips with your tax bill

Next, it’s time to understand what tax you’ll be responsible for paying. First is your Income Tax, which is determined by your taxable income (that is, your earnings minus any allowable expenses and deductions). HMRC takes this information from your Self Assessment tax return and calculates your tax bill accordingly.

The amount of National Insurance you pay also depends on your taxable profit (income less expenses). Instead of the Class 1 NICs that employed people make, you’ll pay Class 2 (unless you earn less than £6,515 a year) and 4 (if you earn profits over £9,569 a year). See the effects of self-employed income tax and NICs at Employed and Self Employed.

  1. Choose the correct insurance cover

This largely depends on which industry you’re in, but there are some general policies that all sole traders should consider. For example, if you employ another person, even if it is just part-time support to help complete projects, you are legally obliged to take out employers’ liability insurance. There is a significant fine for sole traders caught failing to have this.

You should also consider taking out public liability insurance. This protects your business should a client, customer or member of the public decide to take legal action. In the event that they suffer an injury at your premises, or you suffer an injury at their premises, it would also provide cover for damage to property.

Finally, you should consider insuring yourself for professional indemnity. This is where you protect yourself from a client lawsuit levelled at you on account of them being unhappy with the work you have done or the support you’ve provided.

We would always advise that you seek specialist advice from a suitably qualified insurance broker to discuss your requirements.

  1. Identify any relevant tax relief in your line of work

Now you’re square with HMRC, and you’ve covered yourself legally, it’s time to enjoy the benefits of self-employment. All sole traders are eligible to claim relevant expenses to reduce their profits – and the lower the profits, the lower your tax bill will be.

After you’ve incurred the expenses, and inputted the total amount on the relevant tax return, just be sure to store the receipts somewhere secure should HMRC request them. Software like GoSimpleTax makes this easy, by allowing you to take a picture of receipts and save them together with invoices and bank statements in the cloud.

  1. Record income and expenses for your first tax return

A large number of sole traders log their income and expenditure towards the end of the tax year, causing unnecessary stress and a much longer tax return submission process. However, with real-time record-keeping, you can input this information throughout the year. This enables you to forecast your tax bill and better manage your cash flow. Again, with Self Assessment software, this takes no time at all.

In order to be successful as a sole trader, you need to be maximising your take-home pay and steering clear of HMRC penalties. By following the above steps, you achieve both. So, are you ready to finally become your own boss?

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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Friday, May 14th, 2021 Income Tax, 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.

Changes to pensions in 2021

The new tax year brings with it some significant changes to finances. One area affected is pensions. 

It’s important to keep in the loop about pension changes because it can mean that either your finances take a hit or you potentially see a boost!

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll make sure you’re up to date with all the latest information. In this article we’ll explore:

  • What annual allowance is
  • Whether any changes have been made to pension tax relief
  • What changes have been made to lifetime allowance (LTA)
  • Whether state pensions have been boosted
  • How employer contributions work

What is Annual Allowance?

Annual allowance refers to the total amount of pension contributions an individual can make each year while receiving tax relief. This includes contributions made by the individual, employer, and any other third party.

The annual allowance is capped at £40,000. If you exceed this amount, you will be taxed at the highest rate of income tax that you pay.

The Tapered Annual Allowance (TAA) was introduced back in 2016 and applies to high earners. For the tax year 2021/2022, the limit for threshold income and adjusted income is being increased to £200,000 and £240,000, respectively.

Are there any changes to pension tax relief?

Pension tax relief is applied to any governmental top-up contributions made to your pension.

If you are eligible for pension tax relief, the amount of relief you will receive is determined by the highest rate of income tax that you pay. So:

  • Those who are basic-rate taxpayers receive 20% pension tax relief
  • Those who are higher-rate taxpayers receive 40% pension tax relief
  • Those who are additional-rate taxpayers receive 45% pension tax relief

Those who earn under the Personal Tax Allowance (£12,570) are not eligible for pension tax relief.

No changes have been made to pension tax relief.

What are the changes to Lifetime Allowance (LTA)?

When it comes to pensions, the good news is that you can save as much as you want for your golden days. 

The amount of money you accumulate from all pension schemes in a lifetime before taxation is called your pension lifetime allowance (LTA). This was introduced back in 2006, and from 2021 through 2022, the LTA is £1,073,100.

In March, it was announced that LTA would be frozen at this limit until 2026, and it is estimated that the Treasury will generate £990m from this freeze.

Of course, LTA does not apply to everyone. An individual can work out whether or not it is relevant to them by calculating the expected value of their pension payout. To make this calculation, head over here.

If your pension pot exceeds the LTA, you will be charged 25% if it’s withdrawn as income. Alternatively, if it is withdrawn as a cash lump sum, it will be taxed at 55%.

Have state pensions been boosted?

In line with the triple lock ruling, state pensions have been boosted. On 6 April 2021, the state pension increased by 2.5%. That’s an increase of £4.40, bringing the weekly total to £179.60. Annually this works out as £9,339.20.

That said, you will only receive the full state pension amount if you have 35 years of National Insurance (NI) contributions.

Those who reached the state pension age before 2016 will receive the basic state pension, which is slightly less and boosted from £134.25 a week to £137.60.

How do employer pension contributions work?

In line with the Pensions Act 2008, an employer must offer a pension scheme to eligible employees and automatically enroll them once they have commenced employment. Employers must also make contributions to their employees’ pension scheme.

Currently, the minimum amount that an employer must contribute is 3%, and this has remained unchanged.

 

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Monday, May 10th, 2021 Pensions No Comments

The IR35 changes: Who will be impacted by the reforms?

The off-payroll working (IR35) rules for the private sector have changed. These delayed reforms came into effect from 6 April 2021 and could significantly impact some contractors.

That said, according to research from EY TaxChat, very few contractors know what the changes actually mean for them. Of the 500 self-employed workers surveyed, only 14% claimed to be up-to-date.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll have you clued up in no time at all. This article will explain:

  • How the IR35 rules have changed
  • Why the changes have been introduced, and
  • What determines IR35 status

How have the IR35 rules changed?

The IR35 rules exist to ensure that contractors and those who hire them pay the correct amount of tax. It targets those who provide their services via an intermediary, such as a Personal Services Company (PSC).

The rules on who is classified as employed have not changed. However, the burden of responsibility for who determines this status has changed. 

It is now the responsibility of medium-sized and large businesses to determine the employment status of a contractor. 

These businesses must outline the reasons behind the contractor’s employment status in a Status Determination Statement. A contractor has the power to dispute this.

The changes do not apply to small businesses. To be classified as a small business, a business must have:

  • A maximum annual turnover of £10.2 million 
  • A balance sheet total of £5.1 million or less, and
  • 50 employees or less

IR35 does not apply to sole traders. 

Why have the IR35 changes been introduced?

According to the HMRC, those who are “genuinely” self-employed should not be concerned by the changes. The new rules were introduced to ensure that more businesses are compliant with the law. 

Specifically, the reforms seek to crack down on companies who hire contractors through “disguised employment” for tax purposes, which, according to HMRC, is rife. Data shows that only around 10% of Personal Service Company (PSC) owners have assessed their status as employed.

What determines IR35 status?

IR35 status is largely determined by the level of supervision, direction and control a contractor has. 

So, if a contractor has the power to determine their working hours, with little or no oversight and only provides work outlined within the contract, they are likely to fall outside of IR35.

Other factors include whether or not the contractor provides their own equipment, if they are paid on a project-by-project basis, their level of exclusivity and mutuality of obligation (MOO).

It can be a bit of a minefield figuring out where you stand when it comes to IR35. But, don’t worry, there are resources out there to help.

HMRC has a tool called CEST which can help you work out whether or not IR35 applies. That said, it’s important to note that CEST should only be used as a guideline and does not provide a definitive answer on your IR35 status.

For more information about where you stand, head over to Employed and Self Employed to learn about the tax implications of different employment statuses.

 

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Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 Income Tax, National Insurance No Comments

What you need to know about the new 1257L tax code

The world of tax can sometimes feel confusing. That said, it’s essential to stay informed and up-to-date with the latest tax changes. 

At The Salary Calculator, we’re here to help you every step of the way. So, there’s no need to worry.

One of the recent tax changes is the introduction of the new 1257L tax code. In this article, we’ll explain:

  • What the 1257L tax code is
  • What the numbers and letters mean
  • Who the tax code applies to 
  • The amount of tax you must pay under the 1257L tax code
  • What to do if you think you have the wrong tax code

What is the 1257L tax code?

The 1257L tax code informs employers or pension providers how much tax you owe the government each month. It’s the most common tax code for 2021/22 and can be found on your payslip.

In line with finance minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement in March 2021, this tax code is expected to stay the same until 2026.

The tax code for the previous year was 1250L.

What do the numbers and letters mean?

Understanding the numbers and letters within the tax code is pretty straightforward. They indicate:

  • The amount of tax-free income you are entitled to
  • The amount of tax you must pay above the personal allowance
  • Whether other circumstances must be considered

The number 1257 refers to the £12,570 personal allowance, and the letter L entitles you to a standard tax-exempt personal allowance.

An emergency tax code is indicated by the letters “W1”, “M1”, or “X” and is used in a number of situations. 

If an individual begins a new job, starts receiving a state pension, or begins working for an employer after a stint of self-employment, these letters will be attached to their tax code.

Who does the tax code apply to?

The 1257L tax code is typically used for individuals who have one registered employment, with no unpaid tax, tax-exempt income or taxable benefits.

How much tax must I pay under the 1257L tax code?

If an individual has the 1257L tax code, they can earn £12,570 before they are taxed. Per month this allowance works out as £1,047.

Above this threshold, individuals will be taxed on income earned. So, if you earn between £12,571 and £50,270, you will be taxed at the basic rate of 20%. 

Meanwhile, earnings within the bracket of £50,271 and £150,000 are taxed at the higher rate of 40%.  If you earn over £150,000, you’ll be taxed the additional rate of 45%.

What if I think I have the wrong tax code?

There are a number of legitimate reasons why your tax code may not be 1257L. That said, sometimes mix-ups happen, and you can end up with the wrong tax code. This can happen if you’ve recently changed jobs or if you’ve started a new job while receiving your pension.

Whatever the reason, if you think your tax code is wrong, it’s easy to fix. All you need to do is reach out to HMRC and tell them as soon as you spot the mistake. 

Contact HMRC either by phone on 0300 200 3300 or speak to an adviser via the HMRC Webchat.

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2021 Income Tax No Comments

Pandemic-related changes to tax return schedules

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We appreciate that it’s difficult to stay on top of tax law at a time of such uncertainty. That’s why we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to break down the biggest support package of 2020, and how it could impact you in 2021.

Whilst the support from the government has been welcomed with open arms, by most, it is worth noting that these grants are taxable. Each grant should be reported on your tax return, as income, in the accounting period they were received. This means there may be tax and NIC due on these payments and therefore it may impact your tax liability due 31 January 2022.

The extension of the Self-Assessment filing deadline

Sole traders were also made exempt from a late filing penalty, provided that they filed online by 28th February 2021. However, this has proved somewhat confusing as self-employed individuals were still expected to pay their tax bill by 31st January.

Any individuals that failed to do so would be charged interest from 1st February on any late payments. This became even more costly if you delayed your payment on account from July 2020 (another COVID-19 response measure), as the two payments were both due on 31st January 2021 and each accrued interest.

Important change to be aware of

In a further curveball announced 19th February HMRC confirmed that the initial 5% late payment penalty on self-assessed tax would not be charged as long as the tax is paid, or a time to pay arrangement is agreed by 1st April 2021. The self-assessment timeline is now:

  • 31 January – Normal Self-Assessment deadline (paying and filing)
  • 1 February – interest accrues on any outstanding tax bills
  • 28 February – last date to file any late tax returns to avoid a late filing penalty
  • 1 April – last date to pay any outstanding tax or make a Time to Pay arrangement, to avoid a late payment surcharge
  • 1 April – last date to set up a self-serve Time to Pay arrangement online

If you’re unable to pay your tax bill in time, the government is advising you to pay in instalments. This enables you to spread the cost of your tax bill over a few months. Bear in mind that you must owe £30,000 or less and have no other payment plans or debts with HMRC. Your tax returns must be up to date, and you also have to sign up before 1st April 2021. It’s worth noting that you’ll have to pay interest too.

As there is currently no information concerning the rules for the fourth SEISS grant, we here at GoSimpleTax are urging all our users to submit their tax return immediately. After all, there’s a strong possibility that they could determine your eligibility, and you must do it in order to set up a payment plan.

About GoSimpleTax

GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for self-employed, sole traders, freelancers and anyone with income outside of PAYE 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.

Try today 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.

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 Income Tax No Comments

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