Simpler accounts for sole traders

By: Anonymous

Date: 1 August 2013

Simpler accounts for sole traders/calculator sales ledger{{}}New tax rules introduced in April 2013 allow sole traders (ie self-employed, unincorporated businesses) to use simpler rules for recording their business expenses. So what are they and how do they make life easier?

Cash basis

The first new rule is that sole traders can record their costs on what is called the ‘cash basis’, which means when they are paid. For almost all sole traders, this will not be very different from what they already do, even though previous rules stated that transactions should be recorded when they are incurred rather than paid (known as ‘accruals basis’). The subtle difference is when items are bought or sold on credit or paid for at a different time.

Simplified expenses

Under the new rules, instead of recording the actual costs and expenses incurred, a flat rate amount can be claimed for certain costs. You can claim these flat rate amounts regardless of whether you decide to cash account or not.

Motor expenses

45p a mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p a mile thereafter. If you use a motorcycle for business, you can claim 24p a mile.

If you elect to use this method you cannot claim any other motor costs.

Use of home for business purposes

Instead of claiming a portion of actual expenses you can claim the following amounts: 

  • Number of hours home used for business per month
  • 25-50 = £10/month
  • 51-100 = £18/month
  • 100 or more = £26/month

Eligibility for cash accounts

To use the cash accounting rules your yearly turnover in a year must not exceed the vat registration threshold. You must leave this scheme when your turnover exceeds twice the VAT registration threshold.


If you opt to use cash accounting there are a couple of pitfalls to be aware of: 

  • Losses
    If you make a loss you can only carry this forward to next year. This is much less favourable that the treatment of losses should you not elect to account under the cash accounting scheme.
  • Loan interest
    You can only claim loan interest paid up to £500, so, if you have high business borrowing, the cash accounting scheme may not be for you.

You can find out more about the ‘cash basis’ and ‘simplified expenses’ schemes by visiting the Tax Donut

Using 20 years’ experience spent working at some of the UK’s leading businesses, award-winning chartered accountant Elaine Clark is the founder and managing director of

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.