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Is a fitness instructor an independent contractor?

We've updated this guide on 5th October 2021

A fitness instructor can work either as an employee or as an independent contractor i.e. someone that is self-employed. In fact, 62% of personal personal trainers and fitness instructors are self-employed.

What’s the difference between employed and self-employed?

If you work as a fitness instructor, the main difference between being employed and self-employed is the control that you have over your working life. 

As an employee, your employer (i.e. the gym) takes care of your working timetable, your pay, your taxes and your holiday allowance.

As a self-employed fitness instructor, you’re in charge of when you work, you can set your rate of pay, you can take holiday when you want and you’re in charge of paying your own taxes. That said, when it comes to holiday or sick days, you won’t be paid for these like you are when you’re under an employment contract. 

So being self-employed takes much more rigid money management.

What tax does a fitness instructor pay? 

When you’re self-employed, there are two types of taxes that you’re liable to pay from your earnings:

  1. Income Tax
  2. National Insurance

Income tax is based on how much you earn. And it’s a sliding scale as your income increases. Take a look at the 2020/21 tax year rates of Income Tax:

SalaryTax rate
Up to £12,5700%Personal allowance
£12,571 to £50,27020%Basic rate
£50,271 to £150,00040%Higher rate
over £150,00045%Additional rate

When it comes to National Insurance, you pay:

  • Class 2 National Insurance – £159 per year when you earn over £6,515
  • Class 4 National Insurance – 9% of your earnings when you earn more than £9,568

How do I pay my tax bill?

This is the part that most contractors find most complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

  • The tax year runs from the 6th April to 5th April 
  • You have to declare your income to HMRC by 5th October via a Self Assessment online
  • When you complete your Self Assessment, HMRC will send you a UTR (unique taxpayer reference) number
  • The deadline to pay your tax bill is 31st January (after the tax year ends)
  • You pay your tax bill via a tax return
  • A tax return can be done

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