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Tattoo Artist Tax in the UK Explained

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Tattoo artists are rarely employed by a studio. Instead, most are self-employed and rent space, which means many of them will need to be in control of their own tax. Tattoo artist tax in the UK is something that most people will need to deal with, but a lot of new starters don’t always consider the challenges.

Learning how to do your tax correctly is a vital part of starting a business, particularly if you’re earning money and covering expenses throughout your workday. Everything from VAT receipts to accurate customer recording is essential in the tattoo business. Here, we have created the essential guide to stop you from thinking ‘How much tax should I be paying?’ and have it prepared months in advance.

So, how much can you earn before you pay tax?

In the UK, everyone is entitled to a tax-free wage of £12,500. After you reach that amount, anything from £12,501 to £50,000 will be taxed at 20%, £50,001 to £150,000 will be taxed at 40% and anything over £150,000 has a rate of 45%.

The initial £12,500 classes as your personal allowance, which is ideal for anyone working part-time. Even if you’re becoming a tattoo artist slowly and you’re working on the side, you need to ensure you’re keeping accurate track of your finances.

Male tattoo artist with hat working on body tattoo

It’s best to try and put 40% of everything you earn aside, as it makes it easier when you’re figuring out how to calculate tax. 40% is likely to be more than you need, but it’ll cover tax, national insurance and any student debt. There is a simple service on which will help you work out your tax estimation at the end of the year.

The best way to ensure you’re not caught in a tough spell would be to hire an accountant and keep the details of clients you’ve booked in accurately and up to date, logging what you’re earnt each week. You’ll find some accountants will work exclusively with tattoo artists, which can be helpful for you as they’ll know your business model well.

It’s important to get advice on merchandise sales (prints, t-shirts, etc., that you might be selling) as well as tattoos, with the additional aspects providing a small percentage of year on year sales which can impact your expenses and personal tax.

Other things accountants will help you to look into is VAT and tax control of buying products. If you’re buying ink, needles and other studio supplies, you’ll be able to get tax back as expenses. However, it is essential that receipts are kept – and ideally scanned – so you can prove your point of purchase.

There are a lot of expenses that will come as a tattoo artist, including supplies and rent, which will need to be closely documented.

If you don’t have an accountant, you can contact the Self Assessment helpline to confirm whether a business cost is an allowable expense, or whether it needs to be taxed.

Arranging your own taxes can be difficult, but with this handy guide and help from GOV.UK, it’s one less thing to worry.

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Chris Harrison Tattoo Artist

Chris Harrison

Bridgend Tattoo Studio

Bridgend, South Wales, UK

Sneaky-Mitch, tattooist at Gold Room Tattoo, Leeds, UK


Gold Room Tattoo

Leeds, UK

Tito Inkid

L’Atelier Sans Nom

Armentières, France

Lianne Moule

Immortal Ink
Chelmsford, UK

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Corpse Painter Tattoo
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Empire Ink
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

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