Contractors' Questions: How to bill a now foreign client and pay the tax?

Contractor’s Question: I completed a one-off piece of freelance work for a Swedish outfit for a few hundred pounds. I’m Swedish, but am now registered as living, working and paying tax in the UK, where I’ve just landed a permanent job. As a new UK taxpayer, how would I invoice the Swedish outfit? Do I get taxed on it in the UK or Sweden, and by how much?

Expert’s Answer: The key to paying tax is that it has to be paid in the country in which you’re working and if the work physically took place in Sweden then that is where the funds should be declared and the tax paid.

However, if you were working remotely in the UK then our recommendation would be to send an invoice to your client for the payment of your consultancy services. And as you’re now a tax resident in the UK, you should declare the funds as additional income on a self-assessment tax return. The amount you will pay on these funds depends on your overall earnings in the UK from your permanent role and any additional income. If you fall in the higher tax bracket, for example, you’ll pay 40% in tax but if you’re in the lower bracket you may only pay 20%.

In the long run, and if the work is becoming more regular, then it might be better to manage these additional funds via an umbrella company, which could employ you, the worker, and deduct the tax at source. That way there would be no need to file an end-of-year tax return. And if the additional income from abroad is mounting and moving into the thousands of pounds (as opposed to the hundreds) it might be a good idea to set up a UK limited company to trade through. But ultimately, if the work was conducted outside of the UK then you shouldn’t be taxed by the Swedish authorities.

The expert was Charles Daw, a director at CXC Global, an advisory for UK contractors working overseas.

Sunday 28th Feb 2016