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Self-employment is a big factor in film industry jobs, especially if you work behind the camera. However, unlike the general self-employed workforce that have a more clearly defined employment status, the film industry is different.
In contrast, they are split between those on PAYE and those who have to file a tax return, despite both being technically self-employed.
PAYE stands for Pay As You Earn. It’s a way of paying Income Tax and National Insurance through your wages.
You’re most commonly on the PAYE tax structure as an employee. But when you work in the film and TV industry as a freelancer, you may be paid by the production via PAYE, despite not being an employee.
As an employee, you will also pay the following through PAYE:
When you’re self-employed, you will have to make private contributions into a pension independently of your work.
You pay your student loan via your tax return.
No, they’re not. The majority of film industry jobs are characterised by short-term contracts and casual/freelance work. This is because many of them only last the duration of a specific production e.g. a television programme or a film. Others are based on a finite period e.g. a yearly 3-month production.
In this case, each working agreement must be separate from the last. If it is not, you may have your employment status reviewed.
Even if you’re paid via PAYE, you’re different from permanent employees. You don’t have access to the following permanent employment benefits such as:
The Hall v Lorimer case was a court ruling about the employment status of a TV technician. Now, short-term workers in the film and TV industry use this as a landmark guide for their employment status.
If your production does not deduct tax for you via your wages, you will need to complete a Self Assessment and file a tax return to do this yourself.
As a self-employed worker, you will pay the following tax on your return:
The rate that you pay Income Tax depends on what you earn. Take a look at the table below to calculate what you might owe, or check out our Income Tax calculator to have the maths done for you!
|What you earn||Tax band||Tax rate|
|Up to £12,570||Personal Allowance||0%|
|Up to £50,270||Basic Rate||20%|
|£50,271 – £150,000||Higher Rate||40%|
|Over £150,000||Additional Rate||45%|
As we mentioned in the details of the Lorimer case, self-employed workers in the film industry (and generally) can deduct their expenses from their earnings.
Here is a list of allowable expenses that you can deduct to lower your tax bill. But these are just a few examples – you can technically expense anything, as long as you can prove that it is a business expense i.e. bought for work purposes:
Be aware that you can ONLY claim expenses if you are taxed as a self-employed worker and not via PAYE.