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8 Tips for the Newly Self-Employed

Kyle Chubb
Wednesday 31st March, 2021

Recently joined the ranks of 5 million self-employed people in the UK? When you’re just starting out, it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything; after all, being your own boss is great but comes with more responsibilities and more paperwork.

To help you get your bearings, our friends at Gorilla Accounting have put together a few tips to help you navigate the complex – but exciting – world of self-employment.

Tell HMRC You’re Self-Employed

Starting a business will take up a lot of your time, but don’t get swept away by it all without notifying HMRC of your new venture. As a self-employed individual, you’ll have to pay taxes through a self-assessment tax return and pay Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions. You have until 5th October of your business' second tax year to let HMRC know. 

Register with Companies House

Limited company owners must register with the UK’s registrar of companies. Companies House will list your business publicly, so everyone can see details like your Registered office address. You must send them annual returns and tell them about changes to your accounts.

Take Out Insurance

Protect your brand-new business by getting the right insurance. Some policies are mandatory in the UK, such as employers’ liability cover - essential if you employ staff. Others, like income protection insurance or buildings’ insurance, are optional. Still, they can protect your livelihood, so make sure you don’t skip this step.

Self-Employed Man

Record All Transactions

As a self-employed person, you must record all transactions, sales, and expenses. You’ll likely use accounting software (especially when you consider Making Tax Digital and the government’s rules to keep digital records), so shop around for the best option for your business. Records have to be kept for a minimum of 5 years after the 31st January deadline for the relevant tax year.

Know Your Tax Rates

It can be tough to stay up to date with tax rules and regulations, as the government changes them regularly. Still, you should be aware of important tax figures, such as the following:

  • Corporation Tax – Set at 19% for the tax year of 2021/22. An increase will apply from 2023 for any businesses with profits over £50,000, with a rate of 25% for businesses with profits of more than £250,000 and a tapered marginal rate applied between.  
  • VAT – The registration threshold is still set at £85,000.
  • Pension Lifetime Allowance – The government announced that the maximum pension allowance (before triggering an extra tax charge) will stay at £1,073,100 until 2026. You can check if you’ll reach this limit by retirement using our handy calculator.
  • Income Tax – For the tax year of 2021/22, the income tax rate includes 20% on earnings above £12,570 (the current personal allowance).
  • National Insurance – The primary threshold is £9,568 per year and the secondary threshold is £8,840 a year for 2021/22.

Keep an Eye on IR35

As a limited company director, some of your contracts may be caught inside IR35. You must understand what this means and keep up with any changes to the legislation. If you’re inside it, you must pay the right amount of tax and National Insurance.

Set Money Aside for Taxes

When you become self-employed, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes and National Insurance contributions. By putting a certain amount aside every month, you won’t struggle to find money to pay HMRC what you owe when tax season arrives. 

Want to minimise the amount you lose to tax? Check out these 3 little known tips for staying tax efficient.

Work From Home Man

Get a Good Accountant

A dedicated accountant can handle all your admin, give you peace of mind and take care of tasks like submitting self-assessment returns and preparing Companies House Confirmation Statements.

Gorilla Accounting are a technology-driven accountancy firm for sole traders, locums, and limited company owners. They’ve helped countless self-employed people manage their accounts and offer a straightforward solution tailored to your business. Gorilla have an exclusive offer for any Penfold customers, offering the first month accountancy service free! Speak to their friendly team today to find out more. 

Bonus Tip

Being self-employed is a rewarding but challenging journey. Whenever you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s important to remember you decided to go out on your own for a reason. Take a break, pour yourself a nice hot drink and kick back by listening to some of the fantastic self-employed podcasts available!

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