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We know what it’s like to be a freelancer, so here at Freelancer News we love keeping you up to date with all the latest news, tips and advice for freelancers. We cover tips on how to get work as a freelancer, economic news which may affect the way you work and the best way to handle your accounts and finance.

To make sure you’re always getting the latest news, we’ve gathered a team of writers with specific expertise and industry knowledge. That way you know that our writers can handle any aspect of freelancer life that you might need help with. Below are the latest articles from Elizabeth.

Will I Get My Tax Rebate Automatically?

It’s a common misconception that tax rebates are something that always happen automatically. Taxpayers sit waiting for their refunds to drop into their accounts and are understandably outraged when they don’t.

However, what a lot of people don’t realise is that tax rebates aren’t always an automated process. Sometimes, the taxpayer has to go through a tax refund application in order to access the money owed to them. We’ll be exploring both circumstances, but first, let’s take it back to the basics.


What is a tax rebate?

A tax rebate occurs when somebody pays too much tax. HMRC refund the overpayment, known as a tax rebate, or a tax refund – they mean the same thing.

HMRC reviews your income each year, to establish whether you have overpaid or underpaid tax.

In most cases, you’re likely to be completely unaware that you’ve even paid too much tax on your income, so your rebate will be a very pleasant surprise.

The reimbursement comes from the same source you pay your tax to originally – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).


Common reasons you might be due a tax refund from HMRC

There are plenty of reasons why you might overpay income tax and have HMRC owe you a tax rebate.


Is your employer using the correct tax code?

If you have an employer (and lots of freelancers do), they will usually make tax and NI deductions from your wages, and pay them on to HMRC on your behalf through PAYE. You’ll be assigned a tax code by HMRC, and your employer uses this to make deductions at the correct rate.

If HMRC issues the wrong code, or your employer uses the wrong one, this can cause tax deduction errors, and even issues with the allowances available to you. You might over (or under) pay tax as a result.


Are you on an emergency tax code?

If you move from one employer to another, and your P45 gets lost along the way, you may end up on an emergency tax code in the interim. An emergency tax code means that all of your salary will be taxed at the 20% rate, with no relief for the Personal Allowance. This can be rectified, and settled with a tax rebate.


Errors during the payroll process

We’re all human and we all make mistakes – even those in charge of payroll. If a mistake is made during the payroll process, this can cause issues with tax and National Insurance deductions.


Being part of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

The CIS is a system put in place by HMRC to manage tax collection for those working in the construction industry. Contractors make deductions, a bit like employers do, when they pay their self-employed sub-contractors.

Deductions are made at 20% for sub-contractors who are registered on the scheme, or 30% for those who aren’t. This often results in overpayments for those who aren’t registered on the scheme, requiring a tax rebate


Other common reasons for a tax rebate are:
  • Overlooking tax relief opportunities and not claiming what you’re eligible to claim
  • Overpaying Payments on Account for a Self Assessment tax return
  • More than one source of income, causing you to lose some of your Personal Allowance entitlement
  • Work expenses (including PPE, tools, and equipment).

These are just a handful of the most common reasons for being owed a tax refund. It’s important to stay in the loop with your own situation, and act fast if you spot any issues arising!


How to claim overpaid tax back from HMRC

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, tax rebates don’t always happen automatically.

Let’s take a look at when you can expect to receive an automatic tax refund and when you’ll need to apply for it.


When does HMRC automatically refund overpaid tax?

HMRC will issue you with an automatic tax rebate following their own annual PAYE review which shows who has overpaid or underpaid tax. Through this process HMRC reconciles your position as a taxpayer, and issues you with a P800 tax notice which details the findings of their calculations.

If they find that you’ve been overpaying tax for reasons relating to PAYE – such as an incorrect employee tax code – HMRC will refund what they owe to you.


When do you need to apply for a tax rebate?

The process looks a little different for non-PAYE matters. Things like work expenses, business allowances and overpaying on pensions, for example, aren’t automatically refunded, so you’ll need to monitor and manage this yourself.

This is done through the Self Assessment tax calculation system, which is separate from the PAYE tax system. It includes anybody who is self-employed, or who receives income not taxed at source.

Once you submit your Self Assessment tax return to HMRC, they’ll assess your eligibility for a tax refund.

Don’t hang about if you fall into this category! You only have 12 months following the Self Assessment deadline to amend your tax return for that year. After this timeframe passes HMRC will only action tax rebates in extenuating circumstances.


How long does it take to receive a tax refund?

This isn’t straightforward. and largely depends on how complex your claim is.

Typically, the UK tax rebate process can take up to 12 weeks with HMRC and then between a further five days to five weeks on top of that to actually receive your money. Smaller amounts (£1,000 or less) are typically much faster to process.

You are able to select how you want to receive your tax refund, whether it’s via bank transfer or cheque, or if you want to put it towards your next tax bill.


Check out our freelancer resources and guides for more tax information, or to get help on other issues.

Starting Up A Business Straight After Full-Time Education

If you’ve landed on this article then we’re guessing you’ve just wrapped up (or are about to wrap up) your full-time education and are now chomping at the bit to get out into the big, wide (working) world.

First of all, congratulations! We hope all of the essays, assignments, and sleepless nights were worth it. You’ve no doubt made some memories and friends that will last a lifetime but now’s the time to flaunt all those new skills you’ve acquired and put them to good use.

We’re going to make a second assumption based on the fact you’ve clicked through to this article and that assumption is that you’re buzzing with entrepreneurial spirit.

So if we’re right and you’re ready to hit the ground running on starting up your first business post-education, keep scrolling because we’ve got some invaluable advice to steer you in the right direction.


Advice for starting up a business after school, college or university

Here are five of our top tips for those looking to start a business after full-time education.


1. First and foremost, safeguard your financial security

Unless you’ve got a cushion of cash underneath you or dedicated finances ready to invest, you might realistically need to think about a period of employment before diving head-first into business ownership.

Even if it’s just part-time employment, plenty of successful entrepreneurs began their ventures as a side hustle. That way, you can make sure you’re financially secure whilst building your empire. It’s usually absolutely fine to work as a self-employed person whilst also being employed – just check your contract!

Once you do have some spare cash to invest in your business idea, we recommend hiring an accountant to help get your bookkeeping and accounts on the straight and narrow. This will help ensure you’re well-positioned to deal with things like taxes, budgeting and funding too.


2. Dedicate some serious time to meticulous market research

Another crucial thing you need to do before setting any wheels in motion is to carry out some thorough market research to establish the demand for what you have to offer.

Does it already exist? If so, is there a way you can do it better or different? If not, does that potentially mean there isn’t an appetite for it? Answer these questions for yourself before getting in too deep.


3. Now’s the time to start growing your network

Hard work and ambition are vital components to entrepreneurial success, there’s no doubt about that. However, a solid professional network can make the difference between coasting or skyrocketing.

Networking and growing your contacts is something business owners should be doing constantly, throughout their entire professional journey but when starting out, it’s more vital than ever.

As the old adage goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and while we don’t agree that knowledge comes second-best, there’s certainly a great deal to be said for the company you keep and the connections you make in the early stages.


4. Talk (and listen) to those who’ve done it all before

You’ve got big ideas, even bigger dreams and a clear, determined idea of how you want to get there; we get it, you don’t want to listen to anybody telling you what to do.

However, listening to and actively seeking out conversations with people who have either succeeded or failed at starting up a business can provide you with an invaluable conduit of knowledge and insight.

Treat these people as your mentors where possible. Absorb every tip, every piece of advice and every “if I could go back now, I’d do it this way…” suggestion like a sponge.

You’ll make enough of your own mistakes along the way so take advantage of the lessons others have learned from theirs while you can.


5. Accept failure and mistakes as a natural part of the process

Fresh out of full-time education, you’re likely still in the mindset that full marks and top grades are the only way forward. But guess what? Things are different now.

When it comes to starting up a business, there’s plenty of room for error. We’re all human and mistakes are totally normal – it’s all about learning to adapt, recover and make better decisions moving forward.

Oh and don’t compare yourself to others. Starting up a business looks different for everybody; there’s no linear, right or wrong path to take. Focus on yourself, stay in your own lane and don’t get distracted by what anybody else is doing around you.

Right, now you’ve got our pearls of wisdom to add to your own skillset and entrepreneurial spark, it’s time to grab that bull by the horns. Good luck, go get ‘em!


Don’t forget to check back in here for all your latest freelancer news and advice, or visit our info hub for help getting started in freelancing.

Can I Freelance in the UK for Overseas Clients?

As a UK-based freelancer, you are indeed allowed to work for clients in a different country. In fact, for many, the freedom to expand your geographical network is one of the most appealing things about working in a freelance capacity.

Something you will need to take into consideration though, is your tax residence status.

What is a tax residence status?

A person’s tax residence status is basically used to determine which country they should be paying income tax to. A British person working in the UK, for instance, will most likely pay tax on their income to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Though it can sometimes be confusing, it’s important to get to grips with your tax residence status. It will help you avoid any sticky situations, such as failing to pay the tax you owe or on the flip side, paying tax on the same money but in both countries.

To find out your tax residence status, you will need to take a Statutory Residence Test.

The results are determined by factors such as how much time you’re spending where, and what your connection is to each country in question.

How can I freelance for foreign clients?

Whether you’re planning on taking your skills for a trip around the world, or you have overseas clients on your books already, there are some processes worth honing! We’ve gathered some of our tried and tested tips for freelancing when clients are in a different country.

Remember, you’ll need to work around time differences

This might sound like an obvious one, but it’s easy to let an exciting brief with a handsome budget blind you into forgetting about the logistics.

Get excited, but just don’t forget to consider how you’ll manage any collaboration if your time zone is at odds with theirs. Is it going to work around your other clients? Will it fit in with your personal schedule? If you need to work unusual hours to be available for any meetings, is this realistic?

As a freelancer you probably already go through this process at the start of each project, but adding the time difference in can’t hurt!

Put a contract in place, and consider which laws apply

Contracts between freelancers and clients are already fairly common, and definitely best practice, no matter where in the world both parties are located. It’s even more important if you need to safeguard against the potential pitfalls of international freelancing.

Language barriers and cultural differences can lead to confusion and mismatched expectations. Putting a contract in place for both parties helps you to manage these, and make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s also a good way to make sure there aren’t any legal issues that might trip you up later. For instance, any licenses or permissions you might need to collaborate.

Don’t forget about exchange rates when discussing costs

Again, this might sound like another obvious statement to make but when it comes to the topic of costing and quotes, remember to factor in exchange rates between currencies. Calculate these beforehand and then price accordingly. Include the exchange rate on your quote, and make it clear that the invoice total might be different depending on fluctuation currency exchanges.

Failing to do so might mean you end up falling short of what you were hoping to cash in, and open the door to some awkward conversations between you and your client.

Invoice in your local currency

Even though it’s essential to factor in exchange rates during your costings and quote process, it’s advisable to invoice in your local currency. It will make your tax return far simpler, too! Consider using bookkeeping software like Pandle which includes a built-in real-time currency exchange rate tool to make multi-currency invoicing easier!

Set up a money transfer account

Taking advantage of a money transfer account isn’t completely necessary but it sure can make your life a heck of a lot easier.

International cash transfers – without the help of a transfer service – can result in high transfer fees being incurred, and will also take longer to process.

Implementing something like this into your process means you can reduce the headache of expensive transfer fees and have cash in your bank much quicker.

Popular money transfer services include:

  • Wise (formerly TransferWise)
  • Remitly
  • PayPal
  • OFX
  • Western Union

Consider introducing a deposit system (if you don’t already)

Working with overseas clients doesn’t have to be complicated but it does add an additional layer of consideration. To cover your own back, you might think about asking the client for a deposit – this could be 50% of the total bill before completion and 50% after, for example.

You may very well already be doing this but if not, now might just be the ideal time to start! Find more help and advice in our freelancer information hub.

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