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The Society of Authors

The Society of Authors is a trade union for writers, illustrators and literary translators. They were established in 1884.

The union advises, protects and lobbies for the interests of the writing profession. They also hold events and seminars covering topics such as tax returns for those in the industry – and they help members in two principal ways:

  1. Individual advice
  2. Collective action

Since March 2020, they have also been helping authors in financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, read more here

How is the society run?

A council of 60 writers is responsible for electing the society’s president. A Management Committee then directs it and staff run the day-to-day operations.

How can The Society of Authors help with tax?

The Society of Authors believes that the tax landscape in the UK is not beneficial to authors. A study in 2016 that was led by the European Commission surveyed authors, illustrators, translators and journalists. It found that UK writers had less protection than in many other European countries. 

They are now tackling the following tax-related areas that do not favour writers:

How are you taxed as a writer?

If being an author is your principal source of income, it’s likely that you’ll be self-employed. In this case, you’ll have to pay tax via a tax return by the 31st January deadline. What you pay depends on how much you earned but in general you will owe Income Tax and National Insurance

Take a look at the 2020/21 Income Tax rates below:

Income Tax rate
Up to £12,500 0% Personal allowance
£12,501 to £50,000 20% Basic rate
£50,000 to £150,000 40% Higher rate
over £150,000 45% Additional rate


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