Share fisherman: Income Tax and National Insurance contributions

Find out how Income Tax and National Insurance contributions rules work for share fishermen.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) the issue of S23 share fishermen returns for 2019/2020 has not taken place.

Find out how to send your share fisherman returns.


You’re a share fisherman if you work in the fishing industry and you:

  • aren’t employed under a contract of service
  • are a master or a crew-member of a British fishing boat manned by more than one person
  • get all or part of your pay by sharing the profits or gross earnings of the fishing boat

You also count as a share fisherman if you used to work on a British fishing boat, but now work ashore in Great Britain. This could be making and mending gear or any other work for a British fishing boat.

Fishermen employed under a contract of service aren’t share fishermen.

Self Assessment

A share fisherman is classed as self-employed. You must register as self-employed with HM Revenue and Customs within 3 months of when you first started fishing.

Fill in a Self Assessment tax return

You must fill in a Self Assessment tax return each year. This is so that you can declare all of your income from any source, for example, self-employment, employment and Jobseeker’s Allowance, and claim any business expenses. You must keep business records to support information you put in your tax return.

Don’t record any tax that’s been deducted by your settling agent on your tax return.

Send a S23 share fishermen return

You can send 2019/20 annual returns for share fishermen to

For further information you can call 03000 561605 or 03000 561656.

Pay Class 2 National Insurance

When you register as self-employed, you’re also registering to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions. The rate you pay in the tax year 2020 to 2021 is £3.70 a week. This contributes towards the basic State Pension, the normal range of benefits for self-employed people, and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

Claiming JSA

If your JSA claim date is between the first Sunday in January and 31 January, you’ll need to pay all the Class 2 National Insurance contributions asked for in your self-assessment tax return as soon as you can, if you haven’t done so already.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) must receive the payment for these National Insurance contributions by no later than 31 January. This is to avoid a delay in getting the contribution-based JSA you may be entitled to.

If you can only pay your Class 2 National Insurance and owe HMRC any other money, please contact us first before making the payment. We’ll normally apply payments to your oldest debts first.

Budget for your Income Tax and Class 4 National Insurance contributions

As a share fisherman, you can join a voluntary tax budgeting scheme to help you pay your Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.

Published 25 September 2014
Last updated 11 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. We have added guidance on how to send share fishermen returns for 2019/20.

  2. Rates, allowances and duties have been updated for tax year 2020 to 2021.

  3. Rates have been updated for the tax year 2017 to 2018.

  4. Rates, allowances and duties have been updated for the tax year 2016 to 2017.

  5. First published.