Mystery shopping - Self employed, or self assessment?


S

Simon Finnigan

Hi all,
I`m doing some work as a mystery shopped. As it stands I get paid a certain
fee for doing a job. Sometimes I can claim certain expenses (such as the
cost of a meal which is being bought as part of a mystery shop), and
sometimes these are included as part of the fee being paid.

As it stands I`m keeping records of the jobs (where, when, for who, fee,
expenses claimed, other costs incurred like parking or public transport).
Is this sufficient, and what do I do for the tax man? Am I self employed,
or not? I`ve never done this before you see :) Will it be enough to fill
in a self assessment form at the end of the year, or do I need to contact
the tax man now to get the ball rolling? My main employment is PAYE.

I`ve done my calculations on expenses etc at 40p a mile, but I`m not sure
what I can claim for printing an A4 page on a laser printer - the job
involves a lot of printing (well over 500 sheets of A4 to date this month).

Thanks for your help!
 
Ad

Advertisements

J

John.Green

Hi all,
I`m doing some work as a mystery shopped. As it stands I get paid a certain
fee for doing a job. Sometimes I can claim certain expenses (such as the
cost of a meal which is being bought as part of a mystery shop), and
sometimes these are included as part of the fee being paid.

As it stands I`m keeping records of the jobs (where, when, for who, fee,
expenses claimed, other costs incurred like parking or public transport).
Is this sufficient, and what do I do for the tax man? Am I self employed,
or not? I`ve never done this before you see :) Will it be enough to fill
in a self assessment form at the end of the year, or do I need to contact
the tax man now to get the ball rolling? My main employment is PAYE.

I`ve done my calculations on expenses etc at 40p a mile, but I`m not sure
what I can claim for printing an A4 page on a laser printer - the job
involves a lot of printing (well over 500 sheets of A4 to date this month).

Thanks for your help!
Interesting Simon - I am in the same situation and was going to ask a
similar question.

One of the firms I am considering has said:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Based on advice from the Inland Revenue regarding the specific nature
and regularity of the work that we have available, all assessors are
deemed to be of a self employed status.
Whilst not therefore required to provide a formal contract of
employment, we are required to produce a statement that stipulates the
terms of the agreement under which you operate when undertaking
assignments for optimum contact. This particularly relates to the
upholding of confidentiality.
 
S

Simon Finnigan

Interesting Simon - I am in the same situation and was going to ask a
similar question.

One of the firms I am considering has said:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Based on advice from the Inland Revenue regarding the specific nature
and regularity of the work that we have available, all assessors are
deemed to be of a self employed status.
Whilst not therefore required to provide a formal contract of
employment, we are required to produce a statement that stipulates the
terms of the agreement under which you operate when undertaking
assignments for optimum contact. This particularly relates to the
upholding of confidentiality.
Fees vary from £5 to £15, seldom anything outside of those ranges. I need
to try and figure this out so I don`t make that big a profit, by accounting
for the digital camera that is required for the job, internet access that is
essential, driving, printing etc :)
 
R

Ronald Raygun

Simon said:
I`ve done my calculations on expenses etc at 40p a mile,
Expenses are subject to a "wholly and exclusively" rule, which
means that expenses can only be claimed if they are entirely
incurred for the purpose of the work and for no other purpose.

Generally if you use a car both privately and for work, you can
apportion the mileage, because you can point to any particular
maile and say "this mile was driven only for work". But if you
were to combine your mystery shopping trip with a private purpose,
such as doing your own personal shopping while you're there, then
it could get awkward, since then each mile driven to that shop
would have the dual purpose of work and personal.
but I`m not sure
what I can claim for printing an A4 page on a laser printer - the job
involves a lot of printing (well over 500 sheets of A4 to date this
month).
Printing costs an awful lot more than just the paper, since you need
to spread the cost of the toner, and indeed of the printer itself,
over the number of sheets you can expect that it will be good for.
All-in, I would think that 8p a sheet would be about right.
 
S

Simon Finnigan

Ronald Raygun said:
Expenses are subject to a "wholly and exclusively" rule, which
means that expenses can only be claimed if they are entirely
incurred for the purpose of the work and for no other purpose.

Generally if you use a car both privately and for work, you can
apportion the mileage, because you can point to any particular
maile and say "this mile was driven only for work". But if you
were to combine your mystery shopping trip with a private purpose,
such as doing your own personal shopping while you're there, then
it could get awkward, since then each mile driven to that shop
would have the dual purpose of work and personal.
I make a point of not combining my own shopping with a visit, as it`d be a
right pain keeping everything seperate - paperwork, shopping etc, so no
great worries there. :) The difficulty is keeping track of mileage when
I`m visiting a lot of places in a single day. I`ll often return home 2-3
times during the day to drop off paperwork and pick more up, so the mileage
I drive would seem to be greater than the absolute minimum to travel between
the places I visit.
Printing costs an awful lot more than just the paper, since you need
to spread the cost of the toner, and indeed of the printer itself,
over the number of sheets you can expect that it will be good for.
All-in, I would think that 8p a sheet would be about right.
Is there a "reccomended" figure from HMRC? The printer I`m currently using
is also used for my own printing, but I`ve got an identical one on stand
by, which I suppose I could (if needed) use entirely for the mystery
shopping.

Sorry for being really slow about this, I`ve only ever worked under PAYE
before, and this is really sending me mad. I`m trying to keep track of
miles driven, pages printed as well as try and find out how to pro-rata the
costs of the internet connection etc to make a claim. I couldn`t wrk
without the connection, but obviously I use it myself as well.

It`d be quite easy to turn a massive loss on this type of work, claiming at
40p per mile etc - is it worth making sure I make a small profit to avoid
anyone asking why I do it if i`m losing money? The reason I do it is
because it means I`m getting paid to sit in a bookies and bet, go out for a
meal with a companion etc, so even if I do genuinely make a small loss I`m
fine to make it up out of my own money, due to the additional fun we get to
have spending other peoples money, if that makes sense :)
 
P

Peter Saxton

I make a point of not combining my own shopping with a visit, as it`d be a
right pain keeping everything seperate - paperwork, shopping etc, so no
great worries there. :) The difficulty is keeping track of mileage when
I`m visiting a lot of places in a single day. I`ll often return home 2-3
times during the day to drop off paperwork and pick more up, so the mileage
I drive would seem to be greater than the absolute minimum to travel between
the places I visit.
If it is all on business you can claim it all even if it isn't the
absolute minimum.

Why don't you put all the paperwork in the car at the beginning of the
day and drop it all of at the end of the day?
Is there a "reccomended" figure from HMRC? The printer I`m currently using
is also used for my own printing, but I`ve got an identical one on stand
by, which I suppose I could (if needed) use entirely for the mystery
shopping.

Sorry for being really slow about this, I`ve only ever worked under PAYE
before, and this is really sending me mad. I`m trying to keep track of
miles driven, pages printed as well as try and find out how to pro-rata the
costs of the internet connection etc to make a claim. I couldn`t wrk
without the connection, but obviously I use it myself as well.

It`d be quite easy to turn a massive loss on this type of work, claiming at
40p per mile etc - is it worth making sure I make a small profit to avoid
anyone asking why I do it if i`m losing money? The reason I do it is
because it means I`m getting paid to sit in a bookies and bet, go out for a
meal with a companion etc, so even if I do genuinely make a small loss I`m
fine to make it up out of my own money, due to the additional fun we get to
have spending other peoples money, if that makes sense :)
It isn't a problem with making a loss. The worst that will happen will
be that HMRC won't let you set off the loss against other income.
 
Ad

Advertisements

S

Simon Finnigan

Peter Saxton said:
If it is all on business you can claim it all even if it isn't the
absolute minimum.

Why don't you put all the paperwork in the car at the beginning of the
day and drop it all of at the end of the day?
A full day, if I`m lucky, can involve in the region of 500 A4 sheets of
paper, all of which I need to keep organised. If I make a few trips home, I
can do this much more easily without having to carry anything that looks
unusual. What I carry now fits in a nice little backpack that helps me
blend in with everyone else, and the less obvious it is that i`m a mystery
shopper, the better :) I do try and work the trip home so that I`m heading
in that rough direction anyway.
It isn't a problem with making a loss. The worst that will happen will
be that HMRC won't let you set off the loss against other income.
That`s fine, I don`t have any other income that I could use it against,
other than my wages from my "real" job, which is PAYE and well under the
higher rate income tax band.

Is there an opinion as to whether I have to register myself as self
employed, or would this come under something else that would mean just
filling in a self assessment form at the end of the year?

Thanks for your help!
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Similar Threads


Top