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When to declare online sales to HMRC?

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by Lisa-Marie Townsend, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. Hello all,

    This is my first time posting and I'm not exactly sure if I'm in the correct place; please accept my apologies if not.

    Almost two years ago, I began posting my photos on a stock photography website called Dreamstime.com. At $0.35 a download, I have only actually made $7.00 and cannot claim the money until I have at least $100.00 in my account.

    I would like to expand my horizons by selling elsewhere as well (Shutterstock, Alamy, Redbubble etc.) but my question is when do I declare this to HMRC? In fact, how do I even declare this to HMRC?

    I have not actually made any money so far and I'm miles away from calling myself a professional. I take photos in my spare time on my travels and, if I think they're any good, I put them on my Dreamstime/Facebook etc. page.

    Does anyone have any advice? I have been told by some not to worry until I am making a considerable amount and I would genuinely love to sell through other mediums, but I don't want to get myself into any trouble.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Craig20264

    Craig20264 Well-Known Member

    Do you make money from other employment? Are you already paying tax? Until we know this, we can't advise.
  3. Craig20264

    Craig20264 Well-Known Member

    You basically owe tax on any income over the tax thresholds, so if you're currently not earning, you have a way to go yet. Contact HMRC is your best bet. Ask them. I have always found them helpful.
  4. Hi Craig,

    Thanks for your reply. I work in an office and pay tax for the money I earn there.

    Thanks, I will try and get in touch with them.
  5. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    It's more complex if you're selling on US sites, due to double-tax recovery. The US will (potentially) withhold tax, and then you (potentially) have to pay income tax in the UK as well.

    Ultimately though, Craig's comments are correct, until you've actually earned the money there's nothing to do.

    HMRC are helpful - https://www.gov.uk/tax-help
  6. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for your help. Good to know that I don't have to worry about it just yet.
  7. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    As, if or when the time comes, should you need to declare the income to HMRC, if you receive Tax Returns you would include them on that, if you don't you would need to request one from HMRC. Right now I would doubt they would be interested!
  8. Thanks for your reply Nimbus.

    When would you declare it though? How much money is the point where you say, "Now I need to tell HMRC"? I don't receive a Tax Returns at this moment in time. In all honesty, I don't even earn a lot of money at the place where I am currently working. I am still on minimum wage (not living wage as I am under 25).

    Forgive me if these sound like silly questions. I really don't know anything about this side. As previously stated, I think my best bet is to talk to HMRC directly. I am just struggling to get in touch with them.
  9. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I would suggest unless you are going to make something worthwhile it is not worth the effort in form filling or the risk in getting fined. For a tenner I'd walk away and hope your name doesn't come up.
  10. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    They are at times quite difficult to contact, try early or late in the day. You would not owe them anything until your total income passed the tax threshold anyway, which from what you have indicated is not likely at present. At the price per download you would need to sell a lot of pictures before you reached this.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    If you do develop an income stream and you have earnings above the personal limit then write to HMRC and ask for advice, as Craig said they are very helpful. If you do have additional income year on year they would likely put you on self-assessment which means you fill in a form each year in which you declare all your income. It is all done on-line these days and the on-line tool will tell you how much tax you need to pay. For overseas income the form lets you put in the foreign tax paid and if there is a tax agreement between the countries you won't pay tax twice. Tax is payable by 31st January of the year following the tax year - so 31 Jan 2018 for tax year ending April 2017. If it is not much and is regular they can adjust your tax code so it is taken from your pay. If it is a lot and you expect the same again then they ask for payments on account for the current year - at Jan 31st and July 31st.
  12. Thanks Daft Biker, that is exactly what my husband said as well! Haha.

    Thanks for clearing that up Nimbus. I don't think I'm ever going to make a lot of money with it, so I might leave it for now and return to the matter if necessary.

    Thank you PeteRob for your detailed explanation. This does clear things up a little for me.
  13. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Remember that you income from photography can be offset by the cost of achieving that income (travel, postage depreciation etc) and this is likely to exceed the income for a long time, knowing this HMRC are likely to turn a blind eye to any need to file tax returns for small amounts.
    AndyTake2 likes this.
  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Remember also that you can claim expenses against income, and I suspect you have spent rather more than $7 on taking these pictures.

    So here's a suggestion. Make a rough estimate of what your photography costs you per year (including travel). Be as conservative as possible, or alternatively, divide the number by four (or any other arbitrary factor: 3, 5, 10). When you make more money than that, start declaring it. Even then, don't bother until your income exceeds (say) £500. Generally, de minimis non curat lex,. the law does not concern itself with trifles.

    Addendum: I see RogerMac beat me to it.


  15. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Once bitten twice shy;)

    I stay as far off their radar as I can now.
  16. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Err no blind eye!
  17. Thanks for your reply RogerMac. As I only take photos as a hobby and upload them online occasionally, hopefully that is the case.

    Thank you for your reply Roger Hicks. See above, I don't really actively go out to take photos. We plan a day out, e.g. walking in the Peak District, so I take my camera in case I want to take photos. On occasion, I will say let's go there because I want to take photos but my main goal is never because I want to sell them. I just like taking photos!

    Haha Daft Biker I can't say I blame you! Seems like a lot of hassle when I hardly make money in the first place. I'd be happy just making a tenner a month.

    Edit: making a tenner a month on the photos! I need to make more than that obviously for rent.
  18. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I expect you will find your PAYE job uses up all your income below the threshold and that every penny made from photography will need declared and taxed. That's how it is for me anyway.

    The first time I ended up falling foul of HMRC was with shares....totally my own fault for not having been taught anything about taxes in school and then going out and earning good money. Also had one with some really shitty job I made something like £30 at and didn't bother to keep notes so ended up with something like £350 worth of arrested wages.

    If you are going to do it, do it right!
    EightBitTony likes this.
  19. Thanks for your reply Andrew.

    They really should teach more life skills in school IMHO, I had a lesson called 'Guidance' which was about drugs/relationships etc but nothing that would give you any indication of how to actually live in the real world once you've left your parents!

    I suppose it is something I will worry about if I actually make any money at all.

    Thanks again for your honesty and advice.
  20. RobertCoombes

    RobertCoombes Well-Known Member

    Before they remind you that you have not.

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