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‘What is the difference between being self-employed and a sole trader?’ is a question that we are frequently asked.

The definition of self-employed is someone not employed and paying Income Tax through PAYE.  In other words, you are running your own business and pay your tax due through your personal tax return.

However, it also means that you are fully responsible for the success or failure of your business.

Self-employed defines the way you work not the business structure.  There are three options for this – a sole trader, business partnership or limited company – read more here

As a sole trader you own the business outright.  You and your business are seen as one blended legal and financial entity.  As such you would be personally responsible for any loan, credit agreements or unpaid bills. 

Even though a sole trader can be VAT registered and have employees, there is a perception that this is a smaller operation than a limited company. However, there is a lessened level of paperwork.

In summary, a sole trader is self-employed but you can be self-employed but not a sole trader.

Whichever is the best option for you, there are statutory requirements to register to your business before you start trading.

FAQs Planning Start-Ups

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