The virus has adversely affected many business and sadly for some the decision may be that the business is just no longer viable.  Making the decision to close your business is an extremely tough one, as you will have poured your life and soul into making it work.  Talking through your options with someone outside the business is useful as the emotional connection is removed, but at the end of the day you may decide its time to move on and face a new challenge.

Closing down a business has tax implications so this series of 2 blogs runs through what you need to be aware of, and how to go about closing a business.

This blog relates to the self employed.

(We have assumed the business has no significant business assets and does not cover business asset disposal relief)

If your business has made a loss

It is likely if you have decided enough is enough that the accounts show that the business has been making a loss.  You may be able to get tax relief for these losses, so it is important that you don’t miss out.

If you have other income from a different source (eg a PAYE job) or your business made a profit in the previous tax year, then you can offset your trading loss against this other income in the current or previous tax year– this could generate a tax refund for you.  You need to determine the best way to use your losses to maximise any tax rebate, so you need to speak to your accountant who will be able to advise you on this.

There is also an additional relief for a loss made on the cessation of the business – called “terminal loss relief”.  This allows you to calculate the loss for the last 12 months of trading, and potentially offset this against profits of the previous 3 tax years, starting with the earliest year.  For example, if you ceased trading in Sept 2020, you could potentially offset that loss against profits made in 17/18 first, then 18/19 and finally 19/20.  Again we would recommend you take advice as to the best way to make any loss claim, as only the basic details are covered in this blog.

How do I close my business down?

You need to tell HMRC when you stop trading and cease being self-employed – by completing this form.

You will also need to file a tax return for the year in which you ceased trading.  Eg if you cease trading in Sept 20, you will still need to complete a tax return for 20/21 which needs to be filed by 31 January 2022.

You will no longer need to pay class 2 NIC once you stop being self employed, but this is due for the weeks up to the date you tell HMRC that you have ceased trading.

If you were registered for VAT, you must cancel this and submit a final vat return up your final day of trading.  If you had deferred any vat payment under the Covid-19 help scheme, this must still be paid!

If you receive any money in after the business has officially ceased trading (eg old invoices are paid) or you incur expenses, then these need to be taken into account, either by showing them separately on your tax return, or by increasing the loss already calculated for the year.

Not fully closed down?

You can earn income of up to £1,000 from self-employment in a tax year without having to declare this to HMRC.  This is covered by the “trading allowance”.  You do still need to keep records of your income and expenses for your business and there are situations when you would still need to declare this income as detailed here

It is worth bearing in mind though that this allowance does exist, so you can still earn small amounts of income from a business without the need to declare it to HMRC.

Closing down a self-employed business therefore is relatively straightforward from an accounting and tax perspective.  If you do have trading losses, it is important to take advice to ensure these are utilised in the best way for you.

Ceasing trading as a limited company owner is, as you would expect, more complicated and will be covered in our next blog.

If we can help you in determining the future of your self-employed business then do get in touch.