Do you need to register as self-employed?

Last revised: 3 November 2008
Added:1 September 2004

Many MPs’ researchers also carry out freelance work as an extra source of income, but how does this affect their PAYE employment with the MP?

Should I  register as self-employed?
If you have occasional earnings from a source other than your usual PAYE employment then it would be advisable to register as self employed.  You can see further details and register online on the Inland Revenue Website self employment pages.

Can’t I just declare my additional earnings at the end of the year?
No, you can’t just declare it at the end of the year unless you register as self-employed.  You will have to complete a self-assessment return each year, but it is fairly straightforward.

What do I do about income tax and national insurance contributions?
That’s where the self-assessment return comes in; it will help the Inland Revenue to work out any additional contributions you may need to pay.

If I become self-employed, how will it affect my PAYE employment?
The quick answer is that it won’t. You can be both self-employed and employed at the same time. Your employer will make the relevant deductions as normal, and the deductions for your self-employment can either be paid by direct debit on a monthly basis, or they can be invoiced to you on a quarterly basis.

Is it easy to register as self-employed? Does it cost anything?
It’s free to register, and very easy to do so online.  Make sure you have your National Insurance details to hand before, and also your payroll number, which can be found on your most recent pay slip.

Would I be better off buying an off-the-shelf company & registering for VAT?

Unless you are going to earn more than £58,000 through your sideline, it is not worth registering as a Limited Company or for VAT.

Further reading:

Inland Revenue – Self Employment