Accountants help you prepare your taxable accounts for HMRC, help you calculate how much tax you need to pay and can certify that their calculations are correct.

For general advice on tax and accounts, contact your local HMRC office - details of all HMRC tax and specialist advice offices can be found on their website.

Under the requirements of self-assessment it is a legal requirement to keep records of your income and expenditure when not a full-time employee. For instance, an artist can have a part-time job and be self-employed as well.

There are many issues concerned with taxation, employment laws and liability that artists' need to be aware about. The vast majority of artists do not only rely on sales of their work as income, rather on short-term contracts to take part in residencies and workshops. Organisations cannot employ artists on casual short-term contracts unless you have a Unique Taxpayer Reference or UTR (the self-employment reference number formerly known as 'schedule D') and a National Insurance (NI) number. Without these numbers it is impossible now to bid or apply for any short-term paid opportunity.

It is beneficial and advisable for artists to be aware of the benefits of self-employment as it is often the only viable option for practising artists. There are a large number of expenses that can be set against tax payments as well as new tax benefits for artists with disabilities and artists who have families to support. In addition to this, there is an array of business support networks and funding initiatives in London and nationally to assist artists and creative people into business.

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This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.