It's important to let HMRC know that you're self-employed as soon as possible - even if you already fill in a Self Assessment tax return each year. If you don't tell them, you may have to pay a penalty.
You can let HMRC know about your self-employment by registering online for business taxes. You'll be asked for information about yourself and your business. HMRC will set up tax records for you using the information you provide, for example records for:
A Self Assessment Online account automatically will be set up for you at the same time, unless you say that you don't want one.
The nominated partner can register the partnership online for business taxes. A Self Assessment Online account will automatically be set up for the partnership.
Partners in business partnerships will separately need to register themselves for Self Assessment first and sign up for Self Assessment Online (if they wish to do so). Follow the link below for more information.
As well as registering for HMRC taxes, you’ll need to arrange to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions straight away. You'll need to pay £2.65 per week for the 2012-13 tax year.
However if you expect your earnings to be below £5,595 for the 2012-13 tax year, you may not have to pay Class 2 contributions. See the section 'What to do if your earnings will be low' if you think that this applies to you).
The most convenient way to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions is by Direct Debit.
Paying by Direct Debit has many advantages:
If you are unable to pay by Direct Debit, HMRC will send out a payment request every six months in October and April.
If you expect your income from the business to be low for the tax year you may not have to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions. You have to apply to be excepted first. Follow the link below to find out more.
When you start self-employment it may be a while before you get your first tax and Class 4 National Insurance bill. So it’s a good idea to set aside some money from the start. You can use our interactive ready reckoner to help you budget for this, if your tax affairs are straightforward. It will give you a rough idea of how much tax and Class 4 National Insurance a single self-employed person, with no other taxable income, would need to set aside. Follow the link below to the self-employed ready reckoner.
If you are thinking of taking someone on, or already employ someone else, please see our introductory guidance on PAYE for employers.
You don't have to register for VAT until your taxable turnover reaches a certain limit, but there's plenty of advice available when it does. Follow the links below to find out more.
If you are going to be working for one person or firm, you may be an employee rather than self-employed. For more information you can:
If you are a contractor and or sub-contractor in the construction industry you must also register with the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). Follow the link to find out more.