New trading allowance: some things you need to know

A new £1,000 tax-free trading allowance became available in April 2017. If this allowance is relevant to your business, there are certain complexities linked to it that you should know about.

The trading allowance aims to provide simplicity and certainty regarding your obligations for income tax on small amounts of trading and miscellaneous income from providing goods, services or other assets.

Income, not profits

Basically, the trading allowance provides for a complete exemption from income tax if your total trading and miscellaneous income in the year is less than £1,000. It’s important to note that this does mean income – not profits. There’s also no need to register with HMRC or file tax returns provided trading income is below this level.

If you qualify for the full exemption, you’ll need to monitor your income levels every year. As soon as your income goes above £1,000 you’ll be subject to self-assessment.

Partial exemption

If your trading income exceeds £1,000, you may qualify for partial relief. This means you can:

  • Deduct your business expenses from trading income in the usual way, or
  • Deduct the £1,000 trading allowance from your income.

If you claim partial relief, you cannot deduct any other expenses; we can explain more about this if you chat to us.

The best approach for you will depend on the type of business you run and the level of expenses you incur.  And you can change your approach each year if necessary. For example,

  • If you have recurring outgoings, such as stock purchases, it’s likely you’ll be better off claiming actual expenses.
  • If you run a small services business with minimal overheads and costs, it’s likely you’ll find the trading allowance more beneficial. (Unless you have a one-off large revenue expense in any year.)

Cash or GAAP?

The trading allowance applies equally to both cash basis and GAAP accounting scenarios, with one exception. For the purposes of full relief only, if your GAAP income would be more than £1,000 but your cash basis income would be less than £1,000, then you should use the cash basis rather than GAAP. In effect, this allows full relief without requiring a cash basis election to be made. If you really wish to use GAAP, you can elect out of full relief.


You should be aware of exclusions to the trading allowance rules:

  • The trading allowance cannot be claimed for partnership trades, or for income which attracts ‘rent a room’ relief.
  • No relief is available if your trading income includes any amounts received from:
    • an employer, or a spouse / civil partner’s employer.
    • a partnership in which you (or a connected party) are a partner; or
    • a close company in which you (or an associate) are a participator.

This exclusion is very restrictive – even a low amount of income will completely prevent you claiming the relief for the year. The example given in Accountancy Age is that if you are employed and have a sideline in selling photographs of old buildings, the sale of one photograph to your employer (or your spouse’s employer) will prevent you from claiming the trading allowance, even if you sell hundreds of photos to other unconnected parties.

Second trades

For the purposes of the trading allowance, the income and profits of all an individual’s trades are combined. This can lead to difficulties if you are an existing sole-trade business and you start a smaller second trade.

For example, let’s assume you are a self-employed window cleaner starting up a small business giving violin lessons:

  • Full relief will not be available for the new trade (assuming your combined income from both trades exceeds £1,000).
  • Partial relief is likely to be economically unattractive, as you would not be able to claim for the expenses incurred in your window cleaning trade.

This results in an unequal situation whereby someone can receive unlimited income from employment or a partnership and still claim the trading allowance, but an existing sole-trader is unlikely to benefit from the allowance. HMRC is aware of this point, so it may be reviewed at a later date.

We have shared this article (and adapted it slightly) from AccountanyAge.  You can read the original article here.

Beyond Accountancy

At Nordens, we're more than just accountants - we're business experts who can help you achieve your biggest goals.

Nordens Strategic

Our specialist strategic division at Nordens boasts some of the leading entrepreneurial business minds in the country. We cater towards delivering consistent success stories, whilst helping businesses achieve above and beyond their initial goals.

Through highly-tailored guidance, coaching and advice, Nordens Strategic are able to define exactly how your business can reach new levels of success.

Regardless of how you define ‘success’ for your business, our strategic service is guaranteed to bring about real and lasting change. By partnering with some of the UK’s top business coaches, we’ll steer you along the path to a greater future.

Accounting 2 You

Every business, no matter how big or small, needs to make the right decisions, and how to best manage your accounts can put huge question marks over your business. Accounting2You is here to take that pressure off and provide you with all the answers you need.

Our bookkeeping branch offers a fully inclusive, comprehensive service that you can trust. Since 2005, our specialist bookkeepers have been successfully managing the accounting of both individuals and small businesses.

With experts in payroll analysis, credit control and financial recording, Accounting2You will lead your business efficiently, and with real purpose, towards a prosperous future.

Voted as EXCELLENT - 9.9 out of 10 based on 167 reviews

Chris Dyer

Director - Metro Bank

Nordens are always very easy to deal with and extremely professional and efficient. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to my clients for their accountancy needs, no matter how complex they may be.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Jamie Brown

Co-Founder - Chicmi Limited

Very good to work with - the team go above and beyond to make the accounts easy and efficient. They're all super friendly and a joy to work with.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Simon Rose

Director - Rose Opticians

I have been using Nordens Chartered Accountants for 5 years and very happy with the service provided. All members of the team are very knowledgeable and have a wealth of experience which has proved very beneficial to my organisation

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Rebecca Bossick

Founder & Director - Physio LDN

Very easy to contact and put me in touch with the right person whenever I need to ask any questions. Extremely knowledgeable and can help me manage my various businesses whenever I need.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

James Aconley

Principal - Pauline Quirke Academy

Great accountants, always available to offer advice. The team have transformed my business.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Christopher Wilce

Founder - Dataphone

Having worked with Nordens over the last 5 years, not only to look after my annual accounts but they have also provided outstanding professional advice. They have guided me through a Company share buyback with clear and objective advice. We have also been using Nordens strategic services for a couple of years, which has helped bring about significant improvements that exceeded my expectations. With experience of working with several local accountants over my 29 years in business, I’m very pleased with the service I have received from Nordens.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Dave Hodges

Director - Linekers

Trusted our business with Nordens for over 10 years now and watched the company grow into the successful innovative business it has become today. Deservedly so. Every aspect of financial advice we need is always given promptly and with a smile. We have total confidence in all aspects of advice Nordens give. If you are looking for accountants, its a no brainer!

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Tony Charles

Founder - Foundation Sports Limited

A fantastic, modern, vibrant firm that care about the clients and their staff in abundance. It is rare to find an Accountancy firm with such vibrance and focus and relationships. It is no wonder they win award after award in their field.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Peter Horlock

Managing Director - Prime Time Boilers

I have been with Nordens for many years now and they are a great accountants.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Simon Cushing

Founder - Vivid Finishes

We have used Nordens for the last 5 years and have had a great service throughout. The guys are very passionate about what they do and have played a part in the growth of our company, highly recommended.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Andrew Martin

Managing Director - AMD Interior Architecture

Great Service at Nordens from a friendly very approachable team Particularly Kirsty Willis and Joe Sword who have been helping us since we started the business in 2016.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

James Robinson

Director - Forma London

Nordens provide a first class service. We moved to Nordens last year and have been impressed with the level of service provided. Keep up the good work!

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Latest News

We've always got our ears to the ground when it comes to interesting, useful and topical information relating to business and accountancy.

How To Navigate An…
A volatile or unstable nation’s economy ultimately affects every person in that particular location. As the UK finds itself in hot water amidst supply chain issues, energy price increases and post-pandemic uncertainties, there ...
The Autumn 2021 Budget…
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, will be carrying out his red briefcase and laying out his Autumn Budget plans on Wednesday 27th October 2021. The Autumn Budget doesn’t usually attract massive attention, however du...
Nordens TV

We love making videos that break down convoluted accountancy jargon into plain-talking, actionable and accessible facts.

Live Webinar – Time…
Watch our latest LIVE webinar titled ‘Time To Revive' that was held on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 4pm GMT hosted by our CEO Mitch Hahn. Last year was tough for all of us. Now is the time to see what 2021 brings and how we c...
Our Christmas Message To…
Merry Christmas to all!   Here we have Mitch Hahn, CEO of Nordens Chartered Accountants delivering our Christmas message to you. Click the video link or read the full transcript below.   As we enter the ho...
  Why I Founded Nordens
Accounting 2 You

In November 2002, having sold our other business interests off earlier in the year, I decided to set up Nordens Chartered Accountants. The easy part was knowing how to do it, as I had established and built a smaller practice a few years earlier. The difficult part, for me, was not following the traditional accountancy path. Having run businesses, both successfully and unsuccessfully, I wanted to help business owners resolve their short term problems and work with them to achieve their longer term goals. Business has always been my interest and I love that I can help business owners achieve what seems like the impossible every single working day.

Mark Norden Signature

Mark Norden

We're Professionally Certified

Our limited company accountants have a range of qualifications from The Institute Of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). We worry about the bye-laws, regulations and ethical guidelines of the ACCA so you don’t have to! That makes us an ACCA-accredited employer as well as a Professional Passport-accredited one!