Employed and Self Employed

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.

What Do I Need To Complete My Tax Return?

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If you have earnings outside of PAYE, chances are you’ll need to file a tax return. This is an annual submission, due on the 31st January, that lets HMRC know your taxable income and how much tax you need to pay. If you fail to submit it or forget to pay your tax bill, you could face a fine.

So to ensure that doesn’t happen, we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain the tax return process and keep you on the right side of the taxman.

Get registered with HMRC

If you’ve been a sole trader or received income from other sources (like property) before, you may have already filed a tax return. If not, you’ll need to register for Self Assessment with HMRC.

Once complete, you’ll receive a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number that identifies you and enables you to submit a tax return. When your UTR arrives, you’re able to set up your Government Gateway account. It’s here that you’ll file your return (either manually or through software).

Bear in mind that it could take up to 20 days to receive your UTR, so be sure not to leave it too late.

Have all your documents to hand

Now you’re registered, the next step is to prepare the information you need to complete your tax return. This includes:

  • Your UTR
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Employment income and benefits received during the year (forms P60 and P11D)
  • Any income you’ve received as part of a self-employed business
  • A total of any rent you’ve received
  • Certificates detailing interest you’ve received from your bank
  • Any income you’ve received from overseas
  • Any income you’ve received as part of a partnership (one partner should also file a tax return for the partnership as a whole)
  • Information about any dividends received
  • All taxable benefits you’ve received from the state
  • All capital gains you’ve made by disposing of assets
  • Information about any Gift Aid payments you’ve made
  • Details of any pension contributions (you may be able to claim some of this money back)
  • Details of any tax payments you’ve already made this year

All of the above information only needs to refer to the tax year that you’re filing for. In other words, if you’re filing before 31st January 2021, the period will cover 6th April 2019 to the 5th April 2020.

Don’t forget your expenses

While it’s important to keep track of your income, it’s equally important to keep track of your expenses. Any expenditure you’ve incurred during the year may be allowable and used to lower your tax bill. Whether you’re self-employed or a landlord, HMRC have prepared lists of regular expenses you’d expect to see.

You won’t need to send any evidence with your tax return. However, it’s important that you keep your records safe for up to six years in case HMRC investigates your tax return.

Pay your tax bill

Once you’ve filed, HMRC will calculate your total tax liability. Obviously, if you file early, you’ll be aware of your liability well ahead of the payment due date, allowing you to manage your cash flow better.

There’s no legal requirement to file early though – both the tax return and any money you owe are due on 31st January following the end of the tax year.

This tax year, however, HMRC are allowing some Self Assessment users affected by COVID-19 to spread their tax bill over a period of 12 months. Users that file early will be able to determine how much they can pay right away, and then how much they’ll need to pay each subsequent month, using the government’s Time to Pay service.

You can check your eligibility and set up your payment plan by logging in to the Government Gateway. Alternatively, you can call the Self Assessment Payment Helpline on 0300 200 3822 and talk through your options.

That’s it! You’ve officially completed your tax return. Now to prepare for the next one…

About GoSimpleTax

GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for self-employed sole traders 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.

Trial the software 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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Monday, January 11th, 2021 Income Tax No Comments

Why You Should Go Digital For Your Self-Assessment

There are always people who prefer paper-based accounting and self-assessments, reluctant or uninterested to learn to use new tools, they prefer physical copies over digital documents. But this could come at a cost.

By transitioning to digital, your accounts will be easier to manage and they’ll take a fraction of the time to process, enabling you to work on other elements of your business.

We’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain more, and highlight how you can benefit from going paperless.

Real-time answers

Paper, by nature, is chaotic. You’ll need to file and accurately record your accounts – up to six years of your accounts, in fact, to ensure that you are covered if HMRC launch an investigation into your tax return. That’s sure to take up a lot of space, and it also doesn’t provide you with an easy-to-access overview of what you owe the taxman.

Digital files, on the other hand, are much easier to read. Especially if you invest in a tax return solution like GoSimpleTax. Tools like these allow you to record your income and expenditure in real time, meaning that whenever a you wish to know your tax liability it is available in a few short clicks.

Plus, as some tax return software providers also highlight any opportunities to claim tax relief, there’s an extra incentive for you to stay on top of your record-keeping.

Record income more easily

Another benefit of going digital is the ease with which you can record your income. At the moment, you have to log each of your paid invoices into your tax returns. But with invoicing tools, that all changes.

By using software to request payment, any invoices paid will automatically update your accounts. For example, if you receive a payment for an invoice you sent, your predicted tax bill will be automatically updated based on the amount of that payment. This saves you time and also unifies two of your businesses most important admin tasks: invoicing and the tax return.

You can also use these digital tools to understand when to schedule sending invoices as well as the follow-up emails to ensure that customers pay on time. Integrations with online payment solutions like SumUp and PayPal can additionally help your customers pay you more quickly using a debit or credit card, saving you from chasing payments in the first place.

Each of these payments will then filter into your tax returns, making the 31st January tax return deadline much easier.

Enhance security

Tax return and invoicing software also allows you to log all income and expenses in the system. That means no more hoarding scraps of paper – instead, you can take photos of your expenditure and you can upload it to the cloud, where it’s secure and less likely to be stolen.

Be MTD-ready

Last but not least, going digital means you’ll be ready for upcoming legislation. Making Tax Digital (MTD) was a government initiative launched in 2019 to gradually digitalise the UK tax system. It started with MTD for VAT, which stipulated that VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold would need to digitalise their accounts by 2022.

Soon this will extend to all self-employed individuals with an annual income above £10,000. The reason for this is that the government believes, by using software to submit tax returns, there will be fewer avoidable mistakes. These mistakes cost the government £8.5 billion in 2018/19.

By adopting this software now, you’re well ahead of the MTD for Income Tax roll-out date. So, not only will you be compliant with the incoming legislation, but you’ll also benefit from a streamlined workload well ahead of your competitors.

About GoSimpleTax

GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for self-employed sole traders 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.

Trial the software 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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Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 Income Tax No Comments

What the SEISS extension means for you

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In the early stages of lockdown, the government announced support for sole traders in the form of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, or SEISS.

Just a month after its announcement, 2 million claims were made, totalling £6.1 billion in government support. And now, with a second grant opening in August 2020, a number of sole traders are set to benefit from further financial assistance.

We’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain the terms and help you claim.

How does SEISS work?

The scheme is available to all self-employed individuals that have been adversely affected by COVID-19. This is provided that they:

  • Earn the majority of their income through self-employment
  • Have average annual trading profits of less than £50,000
  • Have filed a tax return for the 2018/19 tax year
  • Have traded during the 2019/20 tax year and intend to continue trading in 2020/21

To determine whether or not you were affected by COVID-19, any of the following must apply:

  • Government orders have meant that your trade or industry had to close or be restricted in such a way that your trade closed – or is otherwise adversely affected
  • You cannot organise your work, or your workplace, to allow staff to work safely
  • Your staff or customers are no longer able to purchase from you due to restrictions
  • Social distancing has meant that you are not able to safely serve customers
  • You’ve had contracts cancelled as a result of COVID-19
  • You have either had to care for others since lockdown or have been self-isolating

The first grant ended on 13th July 2020, and claimants could receive either £7,500 or 80% of their average monthly profits over the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years (whichever is the lower amount). Applications for the second grant will open on 17th August 2020, but you must have confirmed by 14th July 2020 that you have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Why is there a phase two?

While the government set a three-month cap on the support, it has since been agreed that  COVID-19 is still impacting the earnings of some sole traders. As a result, it is necessary for them to receive another grant in order to stay afloat.

It will also help to support those who may not have initially been affected by lockdown (and so did not claim the first grant) but have subsequently suffered a loss of business.

What’s the difference? 

The differences between phase one and two are limited, although the second grant will be worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits. It’ll still be paid out in a single instalment that covers three months’ worth of profits, but will be capped at £6,750 total – almost £1,000 less than the phase one grant.

Additionally, you can only claim the second grant if your business was adversely affected on or after 14th July.

Can I continue working and still claim? 

Yes, you can continue to work as long as you intend to continue trading in 2020/21 in the self-employed role you’re claiming for. You can even take up other employment if necessary, provided that the SEISS payments still cover the majority of your income. HMRC will not penalise you for topping up your income with a little additional earnings to sustain your household.

Phase two will have a deadline of 19th October 2020. You can find out more about it on the GOV.UK site. If you are still losing out on income or opportunities to earn, we massively recommend you claim the second grant. This is unprecedented levels of government support and could make the difference between staying afloat or falling behind.

About GoSimpleTax

Right now, you can’t afford to be careless with your Self Assessment tax return. And with GoSimpleTax’s free trial, you don’t need to be. Their cloud-based software enables you to take stock of your earnings in real time, meaning you can get a complete overview of your tax obligations for the year. Once you’re certain all your affairs are in order, upgrade your account for just £46 and file your tax return with complete confidence.

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Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 Economy, Jobs No Comments

Should you defer your second payment on account?

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If you are self-employed, or have additional income on top of your salary from things such as a buy-to-let property, you need to complete a Self Assessment tax return each year, and then pay HMRC any additional tax due. If all of your income comes from employment and you pay your taxes through PAYE (Pay As You Earn) then you do not need to complete a tax return and the following does not apply to you.

For those that are new to the Self Assessment tax return process, payments on account are one of the most common stumbling blocks. Despite being introduced as an initiative to help taxpayers spread their tax payments, it often results in annual frustration and can actually harm your cash flow if you’re caught unaware.

That’s why, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC announced that they would allow taxpayers to defer their second payment on account (that would have normally been due on 31st July 2020). It is hoped that this gives taxpayers the chance to prepare. But is that the right course of action? We’ve brought in Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to set the record straight.

What is a payment on account?

Payments on account are advance payments towards your next tax bill. They’re calculated based on the amount that you paid the previous year.

HMRC splits this amount into two, and places the deadline for payment six months apart from one another. For the 2019/20 tax year, the first was due by midnight on 31st January 2020, and the second would normally be made by midnight on the 31st July 2020.

This latter payment is what can now be deferred, as long as it is eventually paid by the 31st January 2021.

If you had a £5,000 tax bill for the 2018/19 tax year, for instance, you would need to make two £2,500 payments on account towards your 2019/20 tax bill.

But if your 2018/19 Self Assessment bill was less than £1,000 or if over 80% was deducted at source (such as employment), then you will not need to make a payment on account – you would simply need to pay any outstanding tax by the 31st January.

What are your options?

If you are required to make payments on account, you will still need to pay your second one. Although, as HMRC has offered taxpayers the opportunity to delay this, you can choose to make your second payment as late as the 31st January 2021, alongside the submission of your Self Assessment tax return.

HMRC will not charge any interest or penalties should you choose to do this. However, by delaying your second payment to January, you do run the risk of having to fulfil all your tax responsibilities at once. This could result in you having insufficient funds in place to cover all your tax liabilities.

Your therefore have three options:

Pay in accordance with the original July deadline

If you can afford to pay your tax bill as you would do normally, you should do. If anything, it creates a sense of ‘business as usual’ in an otherwise tumultuous time.

I appreciate that, for many, paying in July will harm their cash flow. However, it is my view that clearing debt where possible is more sustainable and allows January to mark the start of a new financial year – and a fresh start.

Reassess and reduce liability

If you’re doubtful that you can afford a second payment on account right now, calculate your 2019/20 tax liability before the 31st July 2020. This will confirm the actual amount to be paid in July 2020, January 2021 and July 2021, and give you clarity. To do this, you need to file your 2019/20 Self Assessment tax return early.

Filing early won’t mean that you have to pay your tax bill early, after all – but it does allow you to determine what your total tax bill will be ahead of time. From here, you can consider two key points:

  1. Does the July 2020 payment on account need to be deferred?
  2. Do the January 2021 and July 2021 payments on account (for the 2020/21 tax year) need reducing to reflect the impact that COVID-19 has had on them?

Defer to later in the year

Of course, there will be some cases that are unable or unwilling to pay anything towards their tax bill in July now that they can defer. In this instance, it’s important that they are reminded of the Self Assessment late penalties should they wish to push this all the way back to 31st January and be unable to make payment at that time.

Deferring could have an impact on cash flow in 2020/21. If you are also VAT-registered and have deferred your VAT payment, then it is worth noting that this also needs to be paid by 31st March 2021.

Ultimately, it falls to you to make the decision that best suits you. However, it is my view that, by planning your 2021/22 payments now, you will be in a much safer position.

About GoSimpleTax

With GoSimpleTax, you can get a clear picture of your obligations. All your income and expenses can be logged in an easy-to-understand format, and their software will highlight areas where you can potentially reduce your tax liability through tax relief.

Register for their free trial today and stay abreast of all the latest tax changes. When you’re ready to file your Self Assessment tax return, upgrade to their full service and submit straight to HMRC.

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Thursday, June 25th, 2020 Income Tax No Comments

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