How much sole trader tax do I pay?

  • 3 min read
  • Last updated 28 Mar 2024

Sole trader tax. *Shudder*

Okay, maybe shuddering is a little dramatic. We’ll help you navigate and understand what exactly a sole trader is, what taxes you need to pay as a sole trader and lots of entertaining bonus info, of course!

We are the talkers of tax, after all, so read on to avoid any sole trader tax entanglements. 

What’s a sole trader?

A sole trader is the official way of referring to a self-employed person in the UK. This means that as a sole trader, you’re in charge of not only your business but also paying the tax you owe HMRC yourself, on time and correctly, too. 

If you need help registering as a sole trader, read our guide on doing just that here

There are a few different taxes that you need to get cosy with as a sole trader. How much tax you pay depends on how much you earn a.k.a profits after expenses 💰

Firstly, you’ll need to pay Income Tax to HMRC. Remember, to report your earnings and pay your taxes, you’ll need to file a Self Assessment tax return.

What are the UK Income Tax rates for sole traders?

IncomeTax rate
£0 – £12,5700%Personal allowance
£12,571 – £50,27020%Basic rate
£50,271 – £125,14040%Higher rate
£125,141 and over45%Additional rate

Depending on how much you earn in one tax year, you’ll have to pay a certain percentage of tax. We know, we can’t contain our excitement either😓

What tax do I need to pay as a sole trader?

As a sole trader, you need to pay Income Tax, National Insurance, and potentially, Value Added Tax (VAT). Luckily, it’s quite straightforward, especially if you’re on top of your bookkeeping 👩‍💻

Income Tax

As mentioned above, Income Tax is paid depending on how much you earn during a tax year. Use our Income Tax calculator to estimate how much you might owe for this tax year. 

Your situation

Outlined number oneImage of an arrow
I am
Annual self-employed income
Self-employed expenses

Tax and profit

Outlined number two
  • Total earnings
    £1,000 tax-free Trading Allowance
  • Tax to pay
    £7,286 income tax
    £0 class 2 National Insurance
    £2,186 class 4 National Insurance
  • What you’re left with

How your income tax is calculated

When you’re self-employed, you have to pay your income tax and national insurance contributions yourself in your annual Self Assessment. Our calculator helps you quickly assess how much you owe.

However you may be eligible for a tax refund when:

  1. You already made tax payments for the year but your annual income ended up less than planned
  2. You have done things that qualify for a tax relief (made private pension contributions, given to charity, etc.)

In your case when you earn £50,000:

Income tax breakdown

You pay no income tax on first £12,570 that you make

You pay £7,286 at basic income tax rate (20%) on the next £36,430

National insurance contributions breakdown

No contributions on the first £12,570 that you make

You pay £2,186 in contributions (at 6%) on the next £36,430 that you make

You pay £0 in NI Class 2 contributions

Tax bill amount £9,472
I want to pay by
Savings frequency

You need to save

£14.22 per day

to pay your £9,471.56 tax bill by 31/1/2026 which is in 666 days

National Insurance

National Insurance (NI) contributions are paid so that you qualify for certain government-provided benefits and public services. It’s paid by PAYE employees, employers and self-employed people like you.  

As a sole trader, you have to payClass 4 NI contributions.

🚨From 6 April 2024 (the 24/25 tax year onwards), Class 2 National Insurance is being scrapped. If you’re under the threshold and pay them voluntarily to qualify for benefits, you’ll still be able to do so.

At the same time, Class 4 is reducing from 9% to 6%.


If you’re a sole trader and you’ve earned over £90,000 💸 in the past 12 months, or expect to do so within the next 30 days, then you’ll also need to register for and charge VAT to your customers.

VAT is a tax that’s added on most goods and services in the UK. You can register for VAT on HMRC’s website. 

Does a sole trader pay Corporation Tax?

No, a sole trader does not have to pay Corporation Tax because they’re not part of nor own a corporation. Sole traders also do not need to file a company tax return (hooray!) but rather file a Self Assessment tax return (aw, shucks) to report their personal earnings. Limited companies (LTDs) on the other hand, will have to pay corporation tax and file a company tax return. 

Is a van 100% deductible as a sole trader? 

Depending on your situation, yes, a van is 100% deductible as a sole trader. You might be eligible to claim the whole or part of the cost of your van back on your Self Assessment. You can claim your van as a capital allowance but you cannot claim using the annual investment allowance.

If you don’t fit the criteria to claim all of it back, then you can claim back:

  • Fuel 
  • Licence fees
  • Breakdown cover
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Repairs and servicing

Read more in our guide on claiming tax relief on your van here

And on your way, you go… 🚛

Help me keep track of it all😳

It’s a lot of information and things to add to your “must remember” list, we know. The easiest way to be on top of your game is by making sure you’re ready for tax season with immaculate bookkeeping – which we can help with for free! 

Yes, we do do it all. 

Check out our free bookkeeping tools – especially created for sole traders like you!

You’ll be able to:

And, you can do it all from one place.

You can also choose to get extra support from an accredited accountant if you need it!

🚀 Boss your bookkeeping – for free

Manage your self-employed finances in one place with 10/10 bookkeeping tools.

  • Save money, time and effort
  • Create and personalise invoices
  • Track all your income and expenses in one place
  • And more!