Cash in Hand Work: What You Need to Know

HMRC Casual Income

If you are considering accepting cash in hand work, you may be wondering what the tax implications of doing so is.  Well, the precise implications will depend on your personal circumstances.  But if you have a full time job and have been offered some work on the side or you don’t have a job but are thinking about accepting a small job to get back into work, here is some helpful advice that may help you understand the tax implication of cash in hand work.

Does HMRC Need to Know about Cash in Hand Work?


You pretty much need to pay income tax on all your earnings, no matter how you earn them or are paid.  If you have a job, your employer will probably be giving you a payslip which details your gross earnings and tax & NI deductions, so HMRC will be informed by your employer of the earnings.  Simple, nothing extra to declare.  However if you choose to do some additional work on the side for example: if you are a school teacher offering private tuition, then you will need to let HMRC know about your additional earnings and pay tax.

How Do You Let HMRC know about your extra earnings?

Firstly, you need to decide whether you have made money which you would classify as ‘Casual Earnings’ or whether you are ‘Self Employed’ because this affects how you register with HMRC and where you show your earnings on your Self Assessment Tax Return.  HMRC provides some guidance to help you with this decision, but if in doubt opting for Self Employed is the safest option however you’re probably self-employed if you:

  • run your business for yourself and take responsibility for its success or failure
  • have several customers at the same time
  • can decide how, where and when you do your work
  • can hire other people at your own expense to help you or to do the work for you
  • provide the main items of equipment to do your work
  • are responsible for finishing any unsatisfactory work in your own time
  • charge an agreed fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit (including through websites or apps)
If You’re Self Employed

You will need to let HMRC know that you are self employed through Self Assessment by sending them a Tax Return by 31 January detailing your earnings for the previous tax year (a tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April).  You can do this online here.

If You Classify Your Earnings As Casual Income

Again, you will need to complete a Self Assessment Tax Return to let HMRC know about your cash in hand earnings and you can start this process by submitting a form SA1 which you can find here.

Regardless of how you classify your income, once registration is complete you will be issued with a UTR number (Unique Taxpayers Reference).  Keep hold of this reference number as it is really important as you need it to set up an online government gateway account in order to file your Self Assessment Tax Return online.

When time comes to complete your Self Assessment Tax Return you will need to declare your cash earnings within the Self Employment section of the return or the Other Income section, if your earnings are considered casual.

In both cases, you are can deduct allowable costs from your income which means anything you had to buy in order to earn the money you made.  For example, if you are a hairdresser earning casual income or are self employed and you had to buy hair products, then you can deduct the cost of this from your earned income.

It’s important to keep a record of your costs, for example by keeping all your receipts, as this will reduce your taxable income and ultimately the amount of tax you have to pay.

Next: How Much Tax Will You Pay on Cash in Hand Work?