2. Sole trader

What ‘sole trader’ means

You’re a sole trader if you’re running your own business as an individual. You can keep all your business’ profits after you’ve paid tax on them.

You can take on staff - ‘sole trader’ means you’re responsible for the business, not that you have to work alone.

Legal responsibilities

You’re personally responsible for:

  • any losses your business makes
  • bills for things you buy for your business, like stock or equipment
  • keeping records of your business’ sales and spending

How to set up as sole trader

You must register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as you can after starting your business.

If you register later than 5 October in your business’ second tax year, you could be charged a penalty.

Example
If you start up as a sole trader during tax year 2013 to 2014, you must register before 5 October 2014.

Sole traders’ tax responsibilities

You must:

You must also register for VAT if you expect your business’ takings to be more than £81,000 a year.

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