Tax for self-employed people
If you become self-employed you must register with Revenue as a self-employed person. You pay tax on the profits from your business and on any other income that you have.
If you make a late payment of any taxes due, you will be charged interest from the due date to the date when your payment is received.
As a self-employed person you pay income tax under the self-assessment system, once a year. Self-assessment means that you are responsible for making your own assessment of tax due.
You pay Preliminary Tax (an estimate of tax due for your current trading year) on or before 31 October each year and make a tax return for the previous year not later than 31 October. If you pay and file your tax return online using the Revenue Online Service (ROS), the deadline is usually slightly later. The extended deadline in 2023 is 15 November.
For example, if your accounting year is from 1 January to 31 December each year, you pay Preliminary Tax for 2023 by 31 October 2023, based on an estimate of your liability for the full year. At the same time, you make a tax return for 2022 and pay any taxes outstanding for that year. You are entitled to the normal income tax credits and reliefs.
For 2023, you can claim an Earned Income Tax Credit of €1,775 (in 2022 the amount was €1,700). However, if you also qualify for the Employee Tax Credit (formerly known as the PAYE tax credit), the combined value of these credits cannot be greater than the value of the Employee Tax Credit.
You must keep proper records which include:
- All purchases and sales of goods and services and
- All amounts received and all amounts paid out
You must keep supporting records (for example, invoices, bank and building society statements, cheque stubs and receipts). You do not have to send them in to Revenue, but you must keep them in case of a Revenue audit.
You can claim certain business expenses against tax. Some examples include:
- Purchase of goods for re-sale
- Lighting and heating
- Running costs of vehicles or machinery used in the business
- Accountancy fees
- Interest paid on business loans
- Leasing payments on vehicles or machinery used in the business
- Contributions to your personal pension (up to certain limits).
If you are working from home you may be able to claim a proportion of household bills such as telephone, heating, lighting and broadband.
You can find more information on self-employment in Revenue’s guide to self-assessment, which includes information about how to fill in your tax return and important deadlines. Revenue also has information on registering for tax and about the business expenses that you can claim against income. Your local Revenue office can also help you with any questions that you may have.
Subcontractors: If you are a self-employed subcontractor working in construction, forestry or meat processing there is detailed information about Relevant Contracts Tax on Revenue's website.
Universal Social Charge, PRSI and VAT
USC: You must pay the Universal Social Charge (USC) if your gross income is over €13,000 in a year.
An extra charge of 3% applies to any self-employed income over €100,000. This means that self-employed people pay a total of 11% USC on any income over €100,000. The USC does not apply to social welfare or similar payments. You pay your USC with your preliminary tax payment.
PRSI: Self-employed people pay Class S PRSI on their income.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
You must register for Value Added Tax (VAT) if your annual turnover is more than or is likely to be more than €75,000 for supply of goods or €37,500 for supply of service. As a trader you pay VAT on goods and services acquired for the business and charge VAT on goods and services supplied by the business. The difference between the VAT charged by you and the VAT you were charged must be paid to Revenue. If the amount of VAT paid by you exceeds the VAT charged by you, Revenue will repay the excess. This ensures that VAT is paid by the ultimate customer and not by the business.
Revenue has information on how to account for and pay VAT.
You (or an agent) must make your income tax return and self-assess your tax liability for the previous year. You can:
- File your Form 11 using the Revenue Online Service (ROS). Certain people must e-file using ROS.
- Fill out a paper Form 11 (pdf) and send to Revenue
If you have registered for self-assessment since 2015, you are required to file and pay online.
Revenue has further information and video guides on filing your tax return.
Revenue also provides A Guide to Completing Pay and File Tax Returns (pdf).
If you use ROS to make your tax return online, it will calculate your self-assessment based on the information you provide. You can choose to accept this calculation or input your own self-assessment.
If you use the paper Form 11, it includes a self-assessment section which you (or your agent) must complete and sign. If you file the paper tax return early, before 31 August, Revenue will complete the self-assessment section on your behalf.
Some unpaid tax debt arising from the COVID-19 pandemic could be deferred or warehoused.
Debts that were warehoused are subject to 0% interest for the warehoused period. After the period ends, a phased payment arrangement is agreed and interest of 3% applies from this time.
You can get more information in Revenue’s Information Booklet on Warehousing of Tax Debts (pdf).
Income tax loss relief for self-employed
A temporary income tax relief was introduced for self-employed people who were profitable in 2019 but who made a loss in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-employed people could have their 2020 losses (and certain unused capital allowances) carried back and deducted from their profits for 2019, to reduce the amount of income tax on those profits. The maximum that could be carried back was €25,000.