There is no strict definition of self employment as opposed to not being self employed however the basic rule is if you have income other than is taxed under the paye system then you may be self employed. If this income is irregular and not part of an ongoing business then you are probably not self employed as such. An alternative to registering as self employed would be to request the Inland Revenue to issue a tax return and declare the additional untaxed income under the category of any other income.
The first action by anyone self employed in business in regard to his self employed tax return is to register that self employment with the Inland Revenue. Self employment must be registered within three months of starting business to avoid a late registration penalty fine of 100 pounds. Not all income outside the paye system is considered to be self employment.
If the income is received on a regular basis or is income from a recognisable business or repeated activity then it is likely that business would be classed as self employed. And being self employed you do need to register for self employment within three months as a consequence of which you would receive an inland revenue self employed tax return to complete each year. If you have any doubts about the status of the income being taxable as any other income or under the self employed tax return then you should contact the Inland Revenue helpline for further advice.
Completing the self employed tax return is not difficult although many people who are self employed prefer to leave the task to a tax accountant. While many items on the self employed tax return involve details of income and expenses which require little knowledge of accounting there are areas which require some understanding of the tax system.
The inland revenue self employed tax return can be completed if the accompanying notes are read thoroughly and those notes that are sent out each year with the tax return are understood and changes from the previous year noted. Most of the notes are quite straight forward although to anyone inexperienced in tax matters the sections on capital tax allowances can appear daunting.
The self employed tax return forms consist of 4 supplementary pages which are attached to the main annual tax return. The return is broken down into various sections of business details, capital allowances, income and expenditure, tax adjustments and finally a balance sheet section which is optional.
The business details section of the self employed tax return form is quite straight forward registering the name, address, description of the business and the relevant accounting dates. It is recommended that new start up businesses submit their first accounts from the date of commencement to the end of the tax year being 5 April.
If you are self employed then you can choose not to adopt the standard financial tax year of 6 April to 5 April although this is not recommended. By choosing a different tax year to the standard financial year the accounts will cross over more than one tax year and in doing so if the tax rules have changed which they do frequently then more than one set of tax rules could be applicable. And if more than one set of tax rules is applicable then individual entries in the accounts become time sensitive.
The capital allowance section of the self employed tax return form involves maintaining records of fixed assets purchased and applying the tax rules relating to fixed assets. These tax rules involve claiming a first year allowance on most non vehicle assets in the year they are purchased and writing down allowance thereafter. Commercial vehicle purchases are also subject to a first year allowance while non commercial vehicles can receive writing down allowance of 25% in the first year restricted to 3,000 pounds.
The income and expenditure section is straighter forward for the non accountant requiring a statement of the income and expenses incurred during the financial year. Accurate records should be maintained including receipts for everything to support the figures being declared.
The next sections of tax adjustments do require at least a minimum knowledge of the tax system. Knowledge of what is allowed and disallowed and what adjustments can be made regarding apportionment of net profit to produce an annual net taxable profit plus adjustments for previous years losses.
The final section of the self employed tax return form is the balance sheet. Only those self employed businesses that produce a balance sheet need complete this section which is optional. And even those businesses that have produced a balance sheet need not complete this section if they do not wish to.