How To Succeed (Financially) As A Personal Trainer

There’s more to being a personal trainer (PT) than staying physically fit. To support clients with their health, nutrition and lifestyle changes, PTs need to be as focussed on their business as they are on their…

5 Minute Read

Updated: 08 Jun 2020

There’s more to being a personal trainer (PT) than staying physically fit. To support clients with their health, nutrition and lifestyle changes, PTs need to be as focussed on their business as they are on their body.

Just to practise their trade they need to have the relevant qualifications, memberships to professional bodies, and public liability insurance – not to mention a first aid certification. And, on top of all that, they’ve still got to build up a client base and remain compliant with the law and taxation.

This leaves little room to earn a decent living. To help with some of the legwork, we’ve provided a guide to succeeding financially as a personal trainer – and where GoSimpleTax can help.

Are personal trainers sole traders?

In many cases, yes. Some may instead choose to set themselves up as a limited company, or join a gym as an employee, but personal trainers typically move into self-employment after their initial training.

Gyms will often arrange deals with self-employed individuals to run classes in exchange for space. For example, personal trainers are able to use the gym’s equipment and studio, but will be expected to perform a set number of classes.

Of course, these classes can act as an opportunity to drum up business, making them mutually beneficial for both the PT and gym manager. However, more established personal trainers might prefer to spend their time with a set number of regular clients. In which case, the gym will often charge a rental fee.

In both situations, as you are not considered an employee and won’t be paid via PAYE, you will be required to file a Self Assessment tax return to declare your earnings. Yet this also means that you’ll be entitled to reduce the amount of tax you owe by claiming for allowable expenses.

What expenses can I claim as a personal trainer?

Self-employed people can be entitled to tax relief on their expenditure. Of course, the only expenditure that’s eligible is purchases you’ve made solely for business purposes.

As one of our users, Josh, put it, claiming expenses isn’t exactly covered in your PT training. And other personal trainers may be unaware of what you can and can’t claim. So, to help you limit your tax liability where you can, the things you can claim for include:

Training equipment – Incorporate boxing in client workouts? Any gloves you purchase can be claimed on. As can skipping ropes and stopwatches, provided you’re using them purely for business purposes. Check out HMRC’s guidance on ‘equipment you keep to use in your business’ here.

Travel – As long as you’re travelling to your clients or classes, you can claim up to 45p per mile. However, you will need to keep a log of the number of miles you’ve travelled in order to be eligible. Our guide to claiming car mileage allowance can help.

Marketing – Making flyers for a personal class? Or interested in having your own website complete with services and a price list? Either way, marketing services rendered in the name of business development can be claimed as an expense.

Work uniform – Be careful here, new clothes could be argued by HMRC as a personal purchase (even if you wear them to work). However, if the gym you work with requires you to purchase a uniform, if you have your own branded uniform, or if you need protective clothing, this can be considered as an expense.

Computer for work purposes – Again, provided this device is used purely for work purposes, you can claim tax relief. As a personal trainer, you may use a computer to do your accounts or perform minor marketing activities to broaden your reach.

Provided you keep the receipts and any other relevant information concerning the allowable expenses, you’ll be able to claim for them.

For a full list of costs you can claim as an allowable expense, click here.

How do I claim for deductible expenses?

Through your Self Assessment tax return. If you’ve yet to register to file this tax return, do so immediately, as leaving it until January will likely cause you unnecessary stress and potentially result in you facing a fine.

Once you’ve registered, HMRC will issue you with a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number. This information will be posted to you in the mail, so again, allow yourself plenty of time (up to 20 days) to receive this ahead of the 31st January tax return deadline.

When that information arrives, you can file your Self Assessment tax return by posting it to HMRC, submitting it through the HMRC portal, or using recognised accounting software. Be sure to include all documentation that proves you’ve made the expenditure you’re hoping to claim on – this includes receipts, invoices and any other relevant evidence.

How do personal trainers declare tips?

As most successful personal trainers attempt to create a more sustainable pipeline of income through monthly payments, tips are largely uncommon. However, the personal trainers who do receive tips from clients, perhaps after sessions or around seasonal periods, will have to pay Income Tax on them.
you will still be required to include the tips you receive in your Self Assessment tax return.

How do I file a Self Assessment tax return?

Once you’ve registered for your Self Assessment, there are other essential documents (outside of your UTR code and relevant expenses information) that you’ll need to have to hand before you can file. These can include:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Any income you’ve received from overseas
  • A total of any rent you have received
  • Information about any dividends
  • All taxable benefits you receive from the state
  • Details of any pension contributions
  • Details of any tax payment you’ve already made this year (payments on account)

This information should only refer to the tax year you’re filing for – i.e. the 6th April of the previous year to the 5th April of the current year.

From there, you will need to identify and complete the sections of the Self Assessment tax return that are applicable to you. The HMRC site will help by signposting you towards the relevant forms, but it can still be confusing.

Tax software can streamline this process by exclusively displaying the sections you need to fill out. GoSimpleTax, for example, can even send you notifications as you’re filing to highlight where there’s a possibility of a mistake or where you could reduce your tax liability.

When you’re finished, either post your Self Assessment to HMRC or submit it online. You’ll receive a confirmation and code number once it’s done. The amount you owe is then calculated. It pays to file your tax return early if you want to know what you owe far ahead of any payment deadlines.

How GoSimpleTax can help

We appreciate the benefit that foresight brings. That’s why, with our free trial, you can start calculating your tax bill in real time today. Simply add in your income and expenditure, and our software will automatically work out the tax you’re expected to owe.

Upgrade to our full service for just £46 and you can submit your tax return directly to HMRC, and even rid yourself of the paper receipts lining your pockets. You can take a photo of your documentation and upload it straight to our secure platform to act as evidence.

Don’t let tax get in the way of your business development. Sign up today and get started along your path to success as a personal trainer.

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