Tax, NI & self-assessment

Simple tips for new freelancers to help you manage your tax when you’re self-employed.

Undergraduate work on the foundation design course

Freelancers – the tax situation

When you’re self-employed, you are responsible for sorting out your own tax. You do this through a process called self-assessment.

To self-assess, you need to register.

When you register as self-employed, you’ll have to start paying national insurance – a small weekly payment.

Starting out and getting registered

Once you start freelancing, you have until 5 October after the tax year when you started to register. Otherwise you risk a penalty fine. So if you started working between 6 April 2017 and 5 April 2018, you should have registered by 5 October 2018. Don’t worry if you didn’t though – as long as you pay your tax by the deadline you won’t be fined.

That all important self-assessment deadline

Once you’ve declared that you’re self-employed, you have to file a tax return every year. This is all done online. There are deadlines you must keep to – they’re all here.

Getting help if you’re worried about tax

The information on the GOV.UK website is improving, but sometimes you just have to contact HMRC. Be prepared for frustration – every year, HMRC gets embarrassing criticism for the long wait times on its helpline.

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