It is entirely up to you whether you choose to register with HM Revenue & Customs. It’s also entirely up to you whether you decide to buy a TV licence; drive a car without insurance; or paddle a canoe into the North Sea, then allow your family to claim on your life insurance, spend five years in Panama, and finally turn up in a London police station claiming to suffer from amnesia. But your decisions may have serious consequences.
Undoubtedly a large number of escorts don’t pay tax. But if you’re in business to achieve financial independence and security for yourself and your family does it really make any sense to put that at risk by ignoring the taxman?
10 Reasons to sign up with the taxman
- To pay your fair share towards public services.
- Because it’s much easier to get a mortgage if you can demonstrate you have a legitimate business.
- Because if you don’t, and you get caught it will cost you a great deal more than the tax you tried to evade. The taxman will probably over-estimate how much you’ve earned and without proper records it will be very difficult to prove he’s wrong. Then there’s interest on top of the tax and penalties which could be as much again as the tax.
- Because The Revenue do monitor newspaper adverts, web-sites and maybe message boards looking for undeclared businesses.
- To avoid being shopped by an aggrieved client, a jealous competitor, the nosy neighbour, or even a boyfriend.
- To avoid the risk of blackmail. Even if they don’t report you it could be a threat that’s dangled over your head.
- Because escorts do get caught.
- Because on top of the financial cost, there’s a high emotional cost to being investigated by HM Revenue & Customs.
- Because it’s easier to sleep at night.
- And because nothing quite beats the experience of basking in the warm after-glow you get after paying the taxman his dues.
Registering for tax & NI
You should register with HM Revenue & Customs as soon as possible after starting in business. There used to be a time limit of 3 months, and a penalty of £100 for missing it, but this has now gone. Instead you must register by 5 October following the end of the tax year in which you start your business.
Once you are self-employed you have to start paying self-employed (Class 2) National Insurance which is a fixed amount of £2.75 per week (from April 2014, previously £2.70). The registration form includes a direct debit form if you want to pay this monthly. Otherwise you will get a bill for £35.75 every three months.
If your business earnings after taking off your allowable expenses (of which much more later) come to less than £5,595 then you don’t have to pay Class 2 NI. This is quite likely if you start your business late on in the tax year (which runs to 5 April each year) or if your escorting is part-time.
If you already have another self-employed business and you are already paying Class 2 NI, then you don’t have to pay it again for your new business.
And if you are also employed and paying maximum NI contributions as an employee you don’t have to pay Class 2 NI. You would need to be earning £42,475 a year from your employer for this to apply. Although to be perfectly honest, the calculation is so convoluted I’m not confident that figure is right! Suffice to say, if you pay too much you can get a refund but it takes ages, alternatively if you think it might apply you can apply for deferment of self-employed NI and then get it properly calculated after the end of the tax year.
Once you are registered HMRC will send you a Tax Return to complete each year.
Details on how to register are included in our starting out guide.