How do I pay taxes in the UK as self-employed?

Ellie Green
Authored by Ellie Green
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2024 - 23:33

Have you decided to go freelance or start your own business? Being self-employed brings challenges, and managing taxes is crucial. With the proper guidance, handling taxes becomes easier. This article advises UK self-employed individuals to stay compliant and avoid penalties. Follow these steps to focus more on growing your business and less on tax worries. Here are the steps.

  1. Register as Self-Employed

The first step in your self-employment journey is to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This is mandatory, and failing to do so can lead to fines. You can easily register online through the HMRC website. Register as soon as you start your business, and definitely by October 5th of your second tax year. The process is straightforward, requiring essential business and personal details. Once registered, you'll receive a unique taxpayer identification (UTR) number, which is necessary for all your tax-related documents.

  1. Self-Assessment Tax System

Self-assessment is how HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) collects income tax. In the UK, self-employed individuals report their income through the Self-Assessment tax system, filing annual tax returns with their income and expenses. Key dates include January 31 for online submissions and payments. Missing this deadline can result in penalties, so mark it on your calendar. Gather all relevant financial documents for the tax year to ensure accurate reporting.

  1. Allowable Expenses

You can lower your taxable income by subtracting eligible business expenses from your income. These costs may include office supplies, travel, marketing, and additional items. Maintaining thorough records of these expenses is essential to report them accurately on your tax return.

  1. Income Tax Payment

Your total earnings after deducting eligible expenses determine how much income tax you owe. The UK tax system includes various tax brands, with your income determining the rate of tax you pay. Keep yourself up to date on current tax rates and thresholds to ensure you are paying the right amount.

  1. Keep Records and Documentation

If you have employees or received support from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, keeping documentation for sales, income, expenses, VAT, and PAYE is crucial. Accurate records of all income and expenses, including invoices and receipts, are essential. The Making Tax Digital (MTD) program offers digital tools to help streamline record-keeping and minimise errors. Review any aid received and ensure everything is documented correctly.

  1. Calculate Your Taxable Income

To determine your taxable income, subtract allowable expenses from your gross income. These expenses include office supplies, travel, and personnel costs. Understanding which expenses are deductible is vital to reducing your tax liability. Standard deductions include business insurance, mortgage payments, and home office maintenance. 

Knowing your tax structure and rates is crucial, as taxes in the UK are based on your gross income and applicable tax rates. Staying updated on current tax rates and regulations helps you manage your finances effectively. Planning lets you handle your tax obligations better and focus on growing your business.

  1. Tax Return Filing

Completing your tax return may seem daunting, but breaking it down into smaller tasks can help. Start by gathering financial documents for the entire tax year. Then, complete the self-assessment form, properly disclosing your income and expenses. Online tools and software can facilitate this process and prevent specific mistakes.

  1. Tax Bill Payment

HMRC will be required when you file your tax return. Payment methods such as direct debit and bank transfer can be used. It’s essential to ensure you pay your bill promptly to avoid blocking additional charges or bills.

  1. Seek Professional Help

Are you seeking guidance on tax issues? Many self-employed individuals find that seeking professional help is a positive solution for managing complex taxes. Using the services of an accountant or tax advisor can save time and ensure accurate tax returns. Experienced professionals can navigate intricate tax situations, providing peace of mind and allowing you to focus on growing your business. When choosing a tax advisor, consider their qualifications, experience, and positive feedback from other users.


As a self-employed person in the UK, there are several critical steps to managing your tax liability, from registering with HMRC to filing your tax returns and paying your debts. If you are planning and notifying, you can ensure compliance and avoid penalties. Remember that when in doubt, seeking professional help can give you peace of mind and save you money in the long run.


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