Are you freelance for tax reasons?

Catherine Every

Every Word Ltd

One of my favourite pastimes is yelling disagreement at politicians on the radio. There was the perfect opportunity to do this recently when I heard about the ill-fated plan to increase National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said that one of the reasons for the increase was early findings from a review that suggest that different tax arrangements are a “key driver” behind people becoming self-employed.

And I thought: ‘Eh?’ before vocalising several other unrepeatable things.

Because choosing to go freelance for tax reasons certainly wasn’t the case in my situation. It isn’t something I recognise from any of my freelance friends and colleagues either.

In fact, while any tax advantages of self employment didn’t cross my mind when making the decision, the disadvantages (lack of paid holiday or sick pay, for example) were the things that stopped me making the leap much earlier than I otherwise would have.

So the Chancellor’s comments made me curious about people’s reasons for going freelance.

For what it’s worth, here are mine.

  • For ethical reasons – I spent far too long in jobs where the ethics and approach of the company / management didn’t fit very comfortably with me and I wanted to feel happier with the decisions I was putting into practice in my working day.
  • For flexibility reasons – I’ve got an annoyingly strong work ethic so I knew that I wouldn’t shirk my responsibilities but I also wanted to be able to knock off an hour early if I felt like it without needing to ask my boss if it would be OK.
  • For ownership reasons – the last company I worked for was always very precarious and I hated the sense that I might be out of work at any moment. As a freelancer I could take credit for my successes but would also need to take responsibility for any failure.
  • For financial reasons – I had a sneaking suspicion I could earn more as a freelancer than I ever would in a salaried role.

What about you? If you’re a freelancer, why did you choose this route? Do any of my reasons resonate with you? Was tax a deciding factor for you? And if you’re in a salaried role, what (if anything) would be the deciding factor in going freelance?


25th April 2017

Charlotte Fleming

I certainly didn’t do it for tax reasons. It was largely because I thought no agency would employ me without experience and at the advanced age (for a beginner) of 53. And I’d had enough of working for other people.

Why I expected clients to pay a complete novice is one of life’s little mysteries! I found it very interesting – and somewhat scary – that people took me at face value: I called myself a copywriter and they gave me copy to write. It felt simultaneously fraudulent and validating.

What do you think?

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