Do I Need to Tell HMRC I’m a Sole Trader?

Do I Need to Tell HMRC I'm a Sole Trader

Starting a business in the UK as a sole trader is a common strategy. When you run a business as a single individual, all of the profits—after taxes—belong to you personally. It’s critical to comprehend your obligations, which include notifying HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of your business. This blog will walk you through the steps and explain why declaring to HMRC that you are a sole trader is so important.

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Do I Need to Tell HMRC I’m a Sole Trader?

You have to notify HMRC if you begin working for yourself. This is because the profits from your business will be subject to taxes. Legally, if your self-employed income exceeds £1,000 in a tax year, you must register as a sole trader. There is a term for this threshold: “trading allowance.” You might not be required to register if your income is less than this amount, but it might still be beneficial for you to do so for other reasons, like being able to claim back some of your expenditures.

How Do I Tell HMRC I Am a Sole Trader?

Registering as a sole trader is a straightforward process. Here are the steps:

  1. Check Your Employment Status: Confirm that you are self-employed and not employed or a worker. This can be validated online by utilising HMRC’s employment status service.


  2. Register Online: Visit the HMRC website and sign up for Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance. You must do this by October 5th, after the conclusion of the tax year in which you began trading.


  3. Provide Necessary Information: During registration, you will be required to enter your personal information, business information, and the date you started business. You may optionally specify a business name, although this is not required.


Get Your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR): After registration, HMRC will provide you a UTR, which you will use in all subsequent interactions with HMRC regarding your tax return.

What Happens if You Don’t Tell HMRC You’re Self-Employed?

Failing to register as a sole trader can lead to several consequences:

  1. Penalties and Fines: If you refuse to register and submit your Self Assessment tax return on time, HMRC may assess fines and interest on any taxes owed. The longer you wait, the harsher the consequences can be.

  2. Impact on Tax and Financial Records: Without registering, you will be unable to accurately record your income and costs, which is required for determining your taxable profit. This can lead to mistakes when submitting your tax returns and possibly complications with HMRC.

  3. Missed Benefits: If you do not register, you may miss out on certain benefits, such as claiming authorised costs to decrease your taxable income.

Maintaining Compliance

Once registered, it’s essential to stay compliant with HMRC regulations:

  1. Keep Accurate Records: Keep track of all the company’s revenue and expenses. This will assist you when it comes time to file your Self-Assessment tax return. Good record-keeping is essential for tracking corporate success and fulfilling obligations under the law.
  1. Annual Self-Assessment Tax Return: Every year, you must file a self-assessment tax return. To determine how much tax you owe, declare your income and spending. The deadline for online submission is normally January 31st, following the conclusion of the tax year. If you owe taxes, they are due on the same date.


  2. Pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs): As a sole trader, you must pay National Insurance, you need to pay Class 2 NICs if your profits exceed a certain threshold. Depending on your profits, you may additionally have to pay Class 4 NICs.


To summarise, informing HMRC that you are a sole trader is both a legal requirement and beneficial to the smooth operation of your business. It ensures that you fulfil your tax obligations, avoid penalties, and claim allowed expenses. If you are beginning or already running a business, you must register and comply with your tax requirements. This allows you to focus on building your business rather than worrying about compliance difficulties.

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