What to do if you need to register as self-employed in the UK
Updated: Apr 5
So do you actually need to register and what are the deadlines?
Income from self employment is measured in tax years. These run from 6/4 to 5/4 each year.
Did you receive more than £1,000 in income, that wasn't from PAYE employment during the last tax year, ie. 6th April 21 - 5th April 22?
If so, then you will need to submit a tax return by January 31st the following year. So income earned between 6/4/21 and 5/4/22, needs to be declared by 31/1/23
Why £1,000? You are allowed a trading allowance of £1,000. So if your income was less than £1,000, there is nothing to declare.
If you did not complete a tax return last year, then you will need to register for both Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance.
The deadline to register is 5th October in your 2nd year of trading. So if you started your business between 6/4/21 and 5/4/22, you will need to register by 5/10/22 and file a return by 31/1/23, which is also when your first payment of tax will be due.
Have you got a business tax account?
If you haven't got a business tax account then you will need to create one. You will be able to do this here.
If you have, then you can use this to register for Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance. You sign into your business tax account using your Government Gateway ID and password.
If you have previously filed a tax return, then you will need to re-register online using form CWF1, which you can find in your business tax account You will keep the same Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) as before.
If you have forgotten your UTR, you can find it here
Once you have registered, you will receive a letter in the post with your Unique Tax Payer Reference number (UTR. Keep this number safe as you will need it to file your tax return. If you ask an advisor to file your tax return on your behalf, they will need your UTR as well.
Once you have registered, HMRC will send you reminders letting you know when your tax return is due.
Filing your tax return
Don't wait until January 31st to file your tax return. You can file any time before the deadline after 6th April. Filing early, means you will have plenty of notice of how much tax is due giving you time to ensure that you have sufficient funds ready.
The best time to prepare your tax return is in April once you have all your figures together. If you use cloud software, then you can keep your records up to date as you go which is much easier than trying to remember what you did a year ago.
Tax is due in 2 instalments: January 31st and July 31st.
If your last tax bill was over £1,000, then you will be required to make a payment in account on each payment date towards the current tax year. This can catch new businesses out as their business grows. This is another good reason for preparing your return early.
NOTE if you have received a letter from HMRC telling you that you need to deliver a tax return, then you must do so, even if your income is less than £1,000. If you genuinely don't need to do one, then you must call HMRC to cancel.
Making Tax Digital for Income Tax and Self Assessment (MTD ITSA)
From April 2024, anyone needing to complete a self assessment for self employment or property income, will need to complete quarterly returns as well as a tax return on January 31st.
EDIT: This has now been pushed back by Government to April 2026 and will now initially only apply to businesses with a turnover above £50,000