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August 18. 2017

Why do we have to pay money in advance of next year’s bill – payments on accounts? Why can't we just be charged the bill at the end of the year?

As well as paying Income tax and NIC’s based on profits for the financial year, self-employed individuals are required to make ‘payments on account’ towards the next tax year.

 If your total Income tax and NIC’s for the year is greater than £1,000, in addition to your Income tax and NIC bill, you will be asked to make ‘payments on account’ towards the next year.  They are payable in two equal instalments.  One by the end of January following the end of the tax year and one six months later by the end of July.

How are they calculated?  In simple terms, each of the two payments on account are calculated as 50% of your total Income tax and NIC due for the year just ended. 

When your tax bill is calculated for the following year, the total Income tax and NIC due is reduced by the sum of the two payments on account you have made in the year.  Consequently, if your profits are exactly the same amount in that year you will have already paid your total tax bill in advance.  If your profits are more or less than the previous year, this would result in a balancing payment or a refund. 

So why do these payments have to be made?  Does it sound unfair?  Not if you consider that unlike the employed paying Income tax and NIC under PAYE, the self-employed have nine months after the tax year ends in which to pay their Income tax and NIC bill.  HMRC’s view is that by then, you will have been earning towards that year so they want a cut of it before the tax year has ended.  It also keeps you up to date with your payments and gives you a clearer indication of where you are with your tax affairs. 

Under certain circumstances, payments on account can be reduced or completely removed.  This should only be done under guidance and advice from your tax adviser.  Unfortunately, the ‘I cannot afford to pay them’ reason to reduce/remove payments on account will not wash with HMRC!


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