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FAQs regarding Tax, National Insurance, Tax Returns, Employment Status and Benefits

1) Changes in the law regarding National Insurance from April 2014 and how does it affect me?

When working as a Supporting Artiste you are now legally considered SELF-EMPLOYED for both Income Tax AND National Insurance. (The law changed in 2014)

2) What do I need to do?

From 6 April 2017 onwards, you can get up to £1,000 each tax year in tax-free allowances for Trading Allowance income. If your annual gross income is £1,000 or less from one or more businesses, you won’t have to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or declare this income on a tax return.

If you are not already registered as self-employed, and you believe that your gross income will exceed £1,000, you must register as self-employed.

You may wish to contact our Casting Collective company accountant  ‘Paul Cann’ who has agreed to assist any Supporting Artistes in completing a tax return and help you register for self-employment or register to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions for a small fee. He has been working in this area for over 20 years. If you are interested in this, please email Paul here. Please don’t email Casting Collective about this.  

3) Registering as self-employed:

As soon as your gross earnings from all self-employment sources exceed £1000 (The trading allowance) in a tax year, you must register as self-employed with HMRC. Otherwise, you may be liable for a penalty. This is done online via the HMRC website, or by completing form CWF1. You will then be issued a UTR (Unique Tax Reference) number.

4) What is a UTR, and how do I get one?

The Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is only issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) when you have registered for Self-Assessment. It comprises ten numbers, for example,1234567890, and can be found on documentation issued by HMRC such as the Tax Return (SA100), a 'Notice to complete a Tax Return' (SA316) or a Statement of Account. Depending on the type of document issued, the reference may be printed next to the headings 'Tax Reference', 'UTR' or 'Official Use'.

5) Self-Employed National Insurance Contributions

  • The main rate of Self-employed National Insurance (Class 4 NICs) is cut by 1p from 9% to 8% from April 2024. This takes effect on 6 April 2024.
  • From 6 April 2024, self-employed people with profits above £12,570 will no longer be required to pay Class 2 NICs, but will continue to receive access to contributory benefits including the State Pension.
  • Those with profits between £6,725 and £12,570 will continue to get access to contributory benefits including the State Pension through a National Insurance credit without paying NICs, as they do currently.
  • Those with profits under £6,725 and others who pay Class 2 NICs voluntarily to get access to contributory benefits including the State Pension, will continue to be able to do so. The weekly rate they pay will be frozen at £3.45 for 2024-25, rather than rising by CPI to £3.70.
  • The Small Profits Threshold  - the point at which the self-employed start to receive National Insurance credits - has been frozen at £6,725, in line with last year’s approach. This supports low income working individuals by maintaining their access to contributory benefits, without having to pay NICs.

6) How do I do a tax return?

When self-employed, you must complete an annual Self-Assessment tax return. You must complete a tax return even if you were only self-employed for part of the year. You can send your return online or on paper. If you send your return online, you'll have three months longer to complete and send it.

The deadline for online submission of tax returns is 31st January the year following the end of the tax year. For example, for the tax year ending 5 April 2024 (the tax year 2023/24), online returns must be submitted (and any tax or national insurance contributions paid) by 31 January 2025. If you submit a paper tax return, it must be filed with HM Revenue and Customs by 31 October 2024.

7) Can you help me with my tax return?

The Casting Collective cannot offer you tax advice. However, as mentioned in point 2, our accountant, Paul Cann, has agreed to assist any Supporting Artistes in completing a tax return. If you are interested in this, please email Paul here.

8) Why do you still need my National Insurance number?

We have to make sure you are legally allowed to work in the UK, and having a National Insurance number along with other documents helps us to check this.

9) Can I claim any benefits if I'm self-employed?

Whether you are classed as working full time depends on the benefit you want to claim and the hours you work. If you work full-time, you might get Working Tax Credit if your income is low. You will be working full-time for the purpose of tax credits if you work at least 16 or 30 hours a week, dependent on your circumstances.

If you work full-time, you will not qualify for Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance. For these benefits, you will be classed as working full-time if you work for 16 hours or more each week.

You can get Pension Credit, Housing Benefits and Council Tax Support no matter how many hours you work. Benefits you can get when working part-time include Income Support if you are a person who qualifies (e.g. a single parent) or Jobseeker's Allowance if you are looking for work of more than 16 hours per week. The amount of those benefits will be affected by any earnings you receive.

Please note that while the above information is currently correct for many areas of the country, HM Revenue and Customs are currently rolling out ‘Universal Credit’, which will replace the various tax credit and benefits currently received. For more information on this, including whether Universal Credit has been rolled out in your area, please refer to HM Revenue and Customs website:

10) What if I am over state pension age?

When you reach retirement age, there is no requirement to pay Class 2 National Insurance; however, if you are paying Class 4 National Insurance, this still needs to be paid for the tax year you reach retirement age, and you stop paying Class 4 contributions from the 5th April of that year.

11) More reading on National Insurance law changes:

Revenue and Customs Brief 35 (2013): liability of entertainers to pay National Insurance contributions

National Insurance and Self-employed Entertainers Summary of Responses 23 October 2013

12) I have another paid job in addition to working as an Extra:

Regardless of your other work, you must register as self-employed if you think your gross earnings will be more than £1,000, for working as an extra within three months of your first job. Currently, your tax-free personal allowance is £12,570 (2023/24). If you earn more than this in your other job, then any income earned as an extra will be taxable. If you fail to submit a tax return and account for any tax or national insurance due, you will be liable for penalties. Warning: HM Revenue and Customs can trace details of your earnings as an extra.

13) What about my Income support or carer allowance?

If you receive Income Support, you must contact your local job centre plus office as soon as you have earned any money as an extra. If you receive Carers Allowance, you will need to contact the relevant office and inform them of your self-employed earnings, and they will then decide on how much the claim will be reduced.

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Last updated March 2024

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