Tax Advice & Tips for Sole Traders

Tax Advice and Tips for Sole Traders

Are you someone who is looking forward to or are already into self-employment in the UK? Registering yourself as a sole trader would be the best way to go about it.

A sole trader is defined as one who runs a business as the owner and not in partnership with anyone. This means the entire financial and legal liability of your business rests solely upon you. As a sole trader, you are the face of your business. Business registration will also be different in keeping with this status and so will tax guidelines.

Criteria for sole trader registration

As per HMRC guidelines, register as a sole trader if:

1.             Earnings annually exceed more than 1,000 in a single tax year.

2.             You need proof of self-employment for mortgage or benefits.

3.             For National Insurance contribution.

Details of filing tax returns as a sole trader

UK tax laws for sole traders provide relief in terms of personal allowance. Only if your taxable income inclusive of everything exceeds this allowance amount, you would need to pay taxes, otherwise not.

A sole trader needs to fill in two forms to start out.

1. SA100 for main tax returns applies to all sole traders.

2. (a).  SA103S for those with turnover lower than VAT threshold of 85,000.

    (b).   SA103F for those with turnover exceeding the VAT threshold of 85,000.

Submit the completed forms on the HMRC website in compliance with deadline dates, either online or paper forms or using tax return software. Once the submission is done, payment of sole trader tax can be done via the HMRC portal, bank transfer, or post.

Note: These things take time to move on government portals so allow for more time by beginning early. 

Sole trader tips to reduce taxes

1. Claim allowable expense

Showing business-related expenses help to reduce tax bills. The following are the claimable expenses:

  • Office costs: This includes stationery, phone bills, etc.
  • Business premises cost: Heating, lighting, etc.
  • Financial costs: This encompasses insurance, bank charges, etc.
  • Promotional cost: This comprises website costs, pamphlets, brochures, etc.
  • Travelling costs: The expenses are fuel, parking, train or bus fares, and so on.
  • Employee costs:  These include salaries, subcontractor costs, and the like.
  • Uniform expenses: These cover the office clothing costs.
  • Training and Development cost: Making of the training curriculum.
  • Things you buy to sell: The expenses are stock or raw materials

If you are working from home, a certain percentage of the following are claimable. 

  • Electricity.
  • Tax to be paid to the council.
  • Heating
  • Use of phone or internet.
  • Interest from mortgage or rental fee 

Save all evidence of expenditure if HMRC requests proof at any point.

2. Understand income tax calculation                                               

HMRC depends upon self-assessment of tax from sole traders for income tax purposes. They are taxed upon profits accrued during their business. The threshold for the financial year 2020 to 2021 was £12,500, whereas it has increased to £12,570 for the year 2021 to 2022. It means that any earning below this amount is free of tax. The last dates for submission of tax returns are 31st January and 31st July every year.

3. Understand NIC contribution

For the sole traders, two different kinds of insurance exist, Class 2 and Class 4. These entirely depend on the profit.

The class 2 insurance contribution is applicable when the sole trader exceeds the threshold. The threshold was £6,475 for the financial year 2020 to 2021. The threshold has increased to £6,515 for the financial year 2021 to 2022. If a sole trader crosses the threshold limit, he has to pay £3.05 per week for both financial years.

In the case of class 4 insurance, the lower and upper-profit limit is fixed. The lower and upper limit was £9,500 and £50,000 respectively for the financial year 2020 to 2021. In the financial year 2021 to 2022, the lower and upper limits have increased and become £9,568 and £50,270 respectively. If the sole trader crosses the lower profit limit, he has to pay 9% and if he crosses the upper-profit limit, the contribution is 2%.

4. Register for VAT

Register with HMRC for VAT if you estimate your income to cross £85,000 annually. Once done, you are eligible to charge customers on eligible sales as well as reclaim VAT on goods purchased.

5. Use Accounting Software

Maintain detailed records and update books on all expenses and income. One may use any bookkeeping software for this. Bookkeeping is essential for self-assessment and submission of taxes to HMRC.

Being a sole trader has its own accounting issues. Consulting a tax accountant in London would be advisable to get expert tax advice. So, contact an established firm to get due assistance from experienced tax advisors.