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This guide discusses the main points you should consider in the early stages of starting out as a self-employed art practitioner, designer or creative business.



Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax payable on the supply of goods and services.   The VAT collected is then paid over to Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC, formerly the Inland Revenue).

‘Withholding tax’ is an amount held by the party making a payment to a payee, which will be paid to the taxation authorities.

How to be self employed

National Insurance contributions

People with full- or part-time jobs who are paid by companies, and whose income tax is deducted from their pay, also have a National Insurance (NI) payment deducted as well.

Basics of Working as an Artist


There has been a mountain of correspondence from readers who have written to me, each with a different problem.

When to pay income tax

Oh! My Precious

One fine day composer John Casken arose to discover that he had won the first Britten Award for composition worth £10,000.

How to start a creative business

Step 7: Registration

If you have been earning money from sales or other activities outside regular employment and have not registered as self employed, then you have three calendar months to notify HMRC before you are subject to a penalty.

When to pay income tax

Taxation of Prizes and Grants

Booker, Whitbread, Turner, John Moores - are the winners of those prizes liable to pay income tax? What about other minor awards and prizes given by public and private donors? What about competitions,'buying time' awards, bursaries and artist in residence schemes, which are common features of the financial framework supporting artists in the UK?.

How to be self employed


To register, you will need to contact your tax office and request your Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR) – this is the number you need to quote on invoices for your self-employed work so you can get paid without the organisation paying you taking off tax and paying it to HMRC on your behalf.

How to start a creative business

Step 2: Cash strapped

Before starting the process of business start-up we need to think about money.

How to price your artwork

Material cost

How much did your materials cost?  Before you do anything else, you should consider your expenses in making the physical work and make sure to factor in covering them.